Abandoibarra Etorbidea 2, 48009 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain
GPS: 43.269344814265, -2.9330249802605
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of the most prominent contemporary buildings in Western Europe. The building’s avant-garde architecture was designed in the early 1990s by American-Canadian architect Frank Gehry, in close collaboration with the Basque Government and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. This museum with its theatrical curves gives an impression of movement and is the pride of the Bilbotarrak, the people of Bilbao. It is the architectural jewel of the Basque Country and is the result of an astonishing combination of titanium, steel, glass and stone.
The location of the Guggenheim Museum in the old port area of Bilbao was not chosen by chance. It is part of a vast plan to revitalize this Basque industrial city. The shape of the building symbolizes a ship proudly anchored on the banks of the river Nervión. The museum is built just below La Salve Bridge, built in the early 1970s and which seems to merge completely with the massive structure of the prestigious art gallery. To commemorate the Guggenheim Museum’s 10th anniversary, this bridge is literally integrated into the cultural site with the addition of a large red doorway by French artist Daniel Buren. With its worldwide success, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is transforming the face and image of the capital of the province of Biscay in just a few years. Its influence on the metamorphosis of Bilbao is such that some specialists have come to speak of an undeniable “Guggenheim effect” in terms of the economic, architectural, artistic and cultural impact of the museum.
Since the opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997 after four years of construction, certain artistic works such as Jeff Koons’ floral sculpture in the shape of a giant dog or Louise Bourgeois’ immense 9-metre high spider have become the major elements in its collection. The museographic space is organized around a vast 50-metre high atrium and houses mainly monumental sculptures in large spaces. It is made up of 20 modern and contemporary art galleries spread over 3 floors. In total, more than 11,000 square metres of exhibition space at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao are dedicated to the artistic creators of the 20th and 21st centuries. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary in 2017, this satellite site of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York recorded a new attendance record, with 1.3 million people visiting the museum, more than half of them are international visitors.