The restroom lines at New York City's Guggenheim Museum may be a bit longer than usual, at least for one particular bathroom.
Visitors roaming the halls filled with modern and contemporary art now also have the option to answer nature's call via a fully-functional 18-karat gold toilet. The piece, created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and titled "America," is meant to embody the nation's fascination with wealth and dramatic excess.
"Cattelan’s toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market, but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all, its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity," a press release from the Guggenheim poetically explains.
To pull off what Cattelan described as "one-percent art for the ninety-nine percent," the 55-year-old artist repurposed an already existing personal bathroom space in the Guggenheim, swapping out the standard toilet for his estimated $1 million to $1.7 million golden version. Those interested in using the golden throne will also have access to a mirror, toilet paper and sink.
The art piece will come with its own security guard to make sure participants don't abscond with any golden souvenirs.
"The fact that it is very welcoming, inviting for anyone to use, gets to the heart of a lot of questions around exclusivity in the art world and in museums in particular," museum curator Nancy Spector told NPR. "And this notion of having a very intimate, private experience with a work of art, and a work of art that speaks quite dramatically about its own value, is fascinating on many, many levels."
Fascinating to the visitor, perhaps, but consider the point of view of the cleaning staff. This being a work of art, the toilet requires cleaning after every use. As Fox News reports, the precious metal finish also means using only medical wipes, not industrial strength chemicals, to wipe its surface. It will also require periodic polishing and steaming.
With large crowds expected to give the golden toilet a go, this likely will become the most cared-for commode in the world.
The exhibit, for all those interested, is expected to run indefinitely.