For the next six weeks, visitors to the Guggenheim Museum may be caught off guard by the absence of art on the walls along its spiral ramp and the performers who greet them instead.

It was a 9-year-old child who first appeared Thursday at a press preview.

“What is progress?” Lola asked.


A short conversation later, along came a teenager, then a young adult who talked about Internet dating and sex, and finally, toward the top, a retired college professor who discussed progress (in addition to Shakespeare and Latin).

The series of one-on-one conversations — often intimate and intellectually probing — comprise artist Tino Sehgal’s exhibition that opens Friday. Sehgal hired and trained the performers.

The children — from 20 schools around the city —introduce the work instead of the traditional wall text. It wasn’t clear how the tourist hot spot would handle the nonstop conversations. “We all don’t know what’s going to happen,” Sehgal said.