Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Guggenheim, Bilbao. Photo © Andrea Ciambra

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Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

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Bilbao Guggenheim Museum - 44 -
	Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Bilbao Guggenheim Museum - 44 - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photo by Andrew Nash
After the 1997 opening of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Basque Country (Wikipedia Article), Spain, it has changed the way people think about art and museums because of the connections between collecting, architecture, and art in general. Interestingly enough, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was said to be the most important structure of this time when it originally opened.

This special museum was inaugurated in October, 1997 by King Juan Carlos the First of Spain and built along the Nervion River, which runs through Bilbao out to the Cantabrian Sea (Wikipedia Article). It's one of the many museums that belong to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, as well.

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is special because it has been hailed as a representation of a rare moment where academics, the general public, and even the critics all united over something, and that is a significant moment for the architectural culture. It has been named one of the more important works completed after 1980, and in 2010, among architectural experts for the World Architecture Survey.

The collection here dates from the present day all the way back to the mid-twentieth century, and concentrates on post-war sculptures and paintings from both Europe and America. This type of collection yields some great wonders from two very different worlds, and even includes key works from artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Robert Motherwell; Willem de Kooning, Richard Serra; and Gilbert & George.

The History of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The history of this beloved museum is one that is timeless, interesting, and of great interest. During 1981, the Basque government had suggested that they would fund the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to build Bilbao's more decrepit port area, which was the city's main income source during that time. It was agreed that $100 million USD would be funded by the Basque government for the construction costs and for the acquisitions' fund, which would be $50 million USD in total.

There would also be a fee of $20 million USD to subsidize the budget for the museum for an annual budget of $12 million USD. In exchange, the Foundation agreed to manage and rotate parts of the institution throughout the museum, and to even organize temporary exhibitions.

Approximately 5,000 residents of Bilbao had attended the pre-opening extravaganza outside of the museum on the night that preceded the official opening. It featured concerts and an outdoor light show, and was opened the day after.

The Exhibitions

Larger scaled installations by the contemporary artists and site-specific works of art are housed at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This includes the 100-meter-long Snake, which is approximately 104 meter, by Richard Serra (Wikipedia Article) and displays of work and art by Basque artists. The museum houses a special selection of work that comes from the modern art collection from the Foundation itself.

The museum opened with a 300-piece overview from an artist of Cubism from the twentieth century of new media art, The Guggenheim Museums and the Art of This Century. The majority of the pieces here come from Guggenheim's permanent collection, as well as acquired paintings from Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. This also includes newly commissioned works from Richard Serra, Jenny Holzer, Anselm Kiefer, and Francesco Clemente.

The exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao changes quite often, generally from thematic exhibitions that include Russian or even Chinese art, to more traditional sculptures and paintings and electric forms. The only permanent exhibit is The Matter of Time, which is a series of steel, weathering sculptures that were designed by Richard Serra. This piece is housed in the Arcelor Gallery.

If you hang around until night falls, you will even be able to see the event that takes place on the museum grounds, the Art After Dark, which is a favorite among both tourists and locals in the area.The Arcelor Gallery is a favorite of locals and tourists alike, because it highlights non-objective art, twentieth century abstraction, and Avant-garde art. The Luminous Interval was announced as the main exhibit during 2011, and showcase art pieces that belonged to Dimitris Daskalopoulos, a Greek business man, who is interestingly enough also a museum trustee. It was met with criticism, however, and too much curatorial power to be a serious benefactor. The exhibition of David Hockney drew approximately 300,000 visitors to the museum alone during 2012.

Address and Directions

The address of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is at Abandoibarra Etorb., 2, 48009 Bilbao.

Public Transportation

You are able to take the train that leads to the museum and there are multiple buses that you can take.


If you are driving you can take Santander A8 / Donostia-San Sebastian or the Vitoria-Gasteiz (A68 and A8) from the center of the city. There you can take the Bilbao San Mames exit and enter the city of Avenida Sabino Arana at the end of the avenue which enters the city. From there you will be able to follow the signs and arrive at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

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Author: Kiera Austin. Last updated: Feb 27, 2015

Pictures of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

guggenheim museum, bilbao, euskadi. - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
guggenheim museum, bilbao, euskadi. - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photo by Paolo Margari

from across the river - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
from across the river - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photo by Frédérique

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum - 45 - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Bilbao Guggenheim Museum - 45 - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photo by Andrew Nash


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