Guggenheim Museum opens in New York City On this day in 1959, on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, thousands of people line up outside a bizarrely shaped white concrete building that resembled a giant upside-down cupcake. It was opening day at the new Guggenheim Museum, home to one of the world’s top collections of contemporary art. Mining tycoon Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting art seriously when he retired in the 1930s. With the help of Hilla Rebay, a German baroness and artist, Guggenheim displayed his purchases for the first time in 1939 in a former car showroom in New York. Within a few years, the collection—including works by Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall—had outgrown the small space. In 1943, Rebay contacted architect Frank Lloyd Wright and asked him to take on the work of designing not just a museum, but a “temple of spirit,” where people would learn to see art in a new way. Over the next 16 years, until his death six months before the museum opened, Wright worked to bring his unique vision to life. To Wright’s fans, the museum that opened on October 21, 1959, was a work of art in itself. Inside, a long ramp spiraled upwards for a total of a quarter-mile around a large central rotunda, topped by a domed glass ceiling. Reflecting Wright’s love of nature, the 50,000-meter space resembled a giant seashell, with each room opening fluidly into the next. Wright’s groundbreaking design drew criticism as well as admiration. Some felt the oddly-shaped building didn’t complement the artwork. They complained the museum was less about art and more about Frank Lloyd Wright. On the flip side, many others thought the architect had achieved his goal: a museum where building and art work together to create “an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony.” Located on New York’s impressive Museum Mile, at the edge of Central Park, the Guggenheim has become one of the city’s most popular attractions. In 1993, the original building was renovated and expanded to create even more exhibition space. Today, Wright’s creation continues to inspire awe, as well as odd comparisons—a Jello mold! a washing machine! a pile of twisted ribbon!—for many of the 900,000-plus visitors who visit the Guggenheim each year. 1867 Plains Indians sign key provisions of the Medicine Lodge Treaty in Kansas On this day in 1867, more than 7,000 Southern Plains Indians gather near Medicine Lodge Creek, Kansas, as their leaders sign one of the most important treaties in the history of U.S.-Indian relations. For decades, Americans had viewed the arid Great Plains country west of the 100th meridian as unsuitable for white settlement; many maps even labeled the area as the Great American Desert. Because of this, policy makers since the days of the Jefferson administration had largely agreed that the territory should be used as one big reservation on which all American Indians could be relocated and left alone to continue their traditional ways of life. This plan was followed for decades. Unfortunately, by 1865, the Indians, roaming freely over the Great Plains, had become a threat to the increasingly important communication and transportation lines connecting the east and west coasts of the nation. At the same time, new dryland farming techniques had led a growing number of white Americans to settle in Kansas and Nebraska, and many others were now eager to move even farther west. Departing from a half-century of precedent, a federal peace commission began negotiating with the Plains Indians in 1867 with the goal of removing them from the path of white settlement and establishing a new “system for civilizing the tribes.” In the fall, the commission met with representatives from Commanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and other tribes, most of which proved willing to accept the American proposal, although many may not have fully comprehended the implications. With the treaties signed on October 21 and 28, the old idea of a giant continuous Great Plains reservation was abandoned forever and replaced with a new system in which the Plains Tribes were required to relocate to a clearly bounded reservation in Western Oklahoma. Any tribal member living outside of the reservation would thereafter be in violation of the treaty, and the U.S. would be justified in using whatever means necessary to force them onto the reservation. Likewise, the new policy of “civilizing the tribes” meant that the U.S. would no longer allow the Indians to preserve their traditional ways, but would instead use schools and agricultural education programs to try and eradicate the old customs and assimilate Indians into white culture. Although most of the major Plains Indian chiefs agreed to the treaty provisions, they did not necessarily speak for all of their people. The authority of chiefs was always highly provisional, and many bands of Plains Indians considered themselves free to accept or reject such treaties regardless of the wishes of their chiefs. When the full import of the Medicine Lodge Treaty became clear to them, some of these bands refused to abandon their hunting grounds and traditional ways, causing decades of violent conflict all across the West.