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Guggenheim Museum Announces Naming of the Oculus, the Iconic Skylight over the Museum’s Open Rotunda

The oculus will be named after the Lawson-Johnston family, honoring their legacy and commitment to the museum.


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, announces the naming of its iconic Frank Lloyd Wright–designed skylight in recognition of a major gift by the Lawson-Johnston family, which will benefit the museum’s general operations. The Lawson-Johnston Family Oculus honors the family’s significant contribution to the museum’s leadership. Peter Lawson-Johnston, the grandson of Solomon R. Guggenheim, has served on the foundation’s Board of Trustees for over fifty years and is past chairman. Two of his children, Peter Lawson-Johnston II and Wendy L-J. McNeil, are current members of the board, and his daughter, Mimi Lawson-Johnston Howe, is president of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board.

Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, comments, “We are deeply grateful for the exceptional generosity of the Lawson-Johnston family, whose remarkable gift will have a profound impact on the continued success and vitality of the Guggenheim Museum. Their steadfast commitment to our institution not only strengthens our ability to engage and inspire visitors, but also supports the preservation and advancement of the arts for generations to come. With heartfelt appreciation, we recognize their invaluable contribution as a true champion of our mission.”

J. Tomilson Hill, Chair of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Board of Trustees, remarks, “The Lawson-Johnston family embodies the spirit of philanthropy and community stewardship. Their contribution will enable us to broaden our reach, expand our programs, and create even more meaningful experiences for our visitors.”

About Peter Lawson-Johnston

Peter Lawson-Johnston is the grandson of Solomon R. Guggenheim. He is honorary chair of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and president emeritus of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, and has been a board member for over fifty years. He served as senior partner at Guggenheim Brothers, New York, and chair and director of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. He is president and director of Elgerbar Corporation. He also serves as chairman emeritus of the University of Virginia Art Museum Advisory Board (chairman 1997–2005), and trustee emeritus of the Lawrenceville School in Lawrence Township, New Jersey (trustee 1977-99, president of the board 1990–97).

Lawson-Johnston is the author of Growing Up Guggenheim: A Personal History of a Family Enterprise (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2005). He received the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Award from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Madison, Maine, in 1986; an Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Inc. in 1993; and the Lawrenceville Medal from the Lawrenceville School in 1997.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was established in 1937 and is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The international constellation of museums includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. An architectural icon and “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is now among a group of eight Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the United States recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. To learn more about the museum and the Guggenheim’s activities around the world, visit

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