On the throne: what it’s like to use the Guggenheim’s solid gold toilet

Putting the flash into flush, the museum installed America, a fully functioning, 18-carat gold toilet made by Maurizio Cattelan. And I can confirm that it works

New Yorks Guggenheim museum unveiled its latest installation on Friday a solid gold toilet titled America.

The toilet, which the Guardian can confirm is fully functioning, is the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who describes the piece as 100% art for the 99%.

Visitors to the museum are able to use the golden toilet in much the same way as they would use a normal toilet. It is located in a standard, pre-existing bathroom on the fourth floor of the museum, a small placard the only indication of its presence.

The Guardian was invited to use the facilities on Friday morning.

Guggenheim Museum (@Guggenheim) September 15, 2016

Are you sitting down? Maurizio #Cattelan: “America” opens tomorrow, 9/15, in one of the museums public restrooms. pic.twitter.com/awS3I2xV3B

Entering the bathroom, the eye was immediately drawn to the toilet. The bright bowl glimmered under the bathrooms harsh fluorescent light, while the 18-carat gold seat looked sparkly and inviting.

The surface proved forgiving on the rear of the thigh and once the procedure was complete, the flush worked like a charm. The golden toilet was able to handle solids.

The toilet was created to the exact dimensions of the Guggenheims existing toilets. The museum shipped two toilets to Italy, where Cattelan cast the golden toilet in several parts before welding it together.

Michael Zall, associate director of operations at the Guggenheim, oversaw the installation of the toilet. He engaged the services of a very professional plumber, who he said was excited by the prospect of fitting a solid gold toilet.

When he was here he kind of turned into a little kid, and he said he actually had butterflies, Zall said.

The toilet was fitted on Monday.

We wanted to try to get it here and get it in as quick as possible so that we had some time to troubleshoot and make sure everything is just right, Zall said.

He said the troubleshooting had involved a lot of flushing.

Putting some paper in it, making sure it flushed well, that everything left the toilet.

In a press release the Guggenheim linked the golden toilet to Donald Trumps business and political career.

The aesthetics of this throne recall nothing so much as the gilded excess of Trumps real-estate ventures and private residences, it said. While Trump is known to have golden chairs in his New York City penthouse, it is not known whether he has a golden toilet.

Cattelan told the Guggenheim that he had the idea for the toilet before Trumps political rise, but said it was probably in the air. He said the golden toilet is in part a nod to <a href=”https://www.google.com/search?q=marcel+duchamp+fountain&safe=off&espv=2&biw=727&bih=770&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjhufbEpZTPAhXIQyYKHWwZCMUQ_AUIBigB#safe=off&tbm=isch&q=marcel+duchamp+fountain+original” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>Marcel Duchamps 1917 artwork Fountain, which was a urinal.

Nathan Otterson, senior conservator, objects at the Guggenheim, is responsible for maintaining the toilet. He said a cleaning crew will attend to the toilet every 15 minutes.

Theyll wipe down the toilet with a medical wipe that will sanitize it and then at a longer interval it will be steam-cleaned like in a hospital, he said.

A security officer will stand guard outside the toilet. People will only be allowed to enter one at a time, and bags must be left outside.

We would hope no one would try to remove part of the toilet, Otterson said. There has been some internal discussion over imposing a time limit on golden toilet visits, he said, with people potentially being limited to five minutes per visit.

There was a small line of people outside the Guggenheim on Friday morning. A woman called Rachel, who asked that her last name not be used, said she was there specifically to use the golden toilet. She declined to elaborate on her plans, but said she was excited at the prospect of using the toilet.

A friend posted it on Facebook last night, she said. Its hilarious and who wouldnt want to pee on art?

Rachel said her most enjoyable toilet experience to date was in Japan.

They have the best toilets. They have water in them, theyre heated, sometimes they play music. Theyre amazing.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/16/gold-toilet-guggenheim-america-maurizio-cattelan

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