Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao), Bilbao

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao), Bilbao (must see)

By 1991 Bilbao's once thriving maritime industrial area was decrepit. The Basque government sought to arrange with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to build a Guggenheim Museum in the depressed port area of the city. The museum was built by Grupo Ferrovial, a Spanish multinational company. King Juan Carlos I inaugurated the museum on 18 October 1997.

Five days before the opening, ETA militants shot police officer Jose Mara Aguirre Larraona. Officer Aguirre helped to foil a grenade attack on the museum. He died. The square in front of the museum is now Aguirre Square. The museum represents a victory for Bilbao.

The Guggenheim Foundation chose the Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry for the design. Thomas Krens, museum director, urged Gehry to come up with something "daring." The result was hailed as a "Deconstructivist" masterpiece. Art critic Calvin Tomkins from The New Yorker called the museum "a fantastic dream ship of undulating form in a cloak of titanium."

Gehry has said the curved, randomly shaped steel walls are meant to "catch the light." The interior is laid out around a vast well-lighted rose-shaped atrium. All things in the museum are arranged around the atrium. The resonance of the building's design with a great ship stranded on the shores of Bilbao is not random.

The museum unwraps its forms of stone, glass, and metal on a 350,000-square-foot site by the Nervion River. It is in the old industrial core of the city. It has 120,000 square feet of space dedicated to exhibitions. The exhibition spaces are in 19 galleries. Ten are traditional and finished in stone. Nine are clad in swirling titanium.

The museum houses "large-scale non-specific works by contemporary artists." This group of artists includes Richard Serra, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Francesco Clemente, Anselm Kiefer, and Jenny Holzer.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Bilbao. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao) on Map

Sight Name: Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao)
Sight Location: Bilbao, Spain (See walking tours in Bilbao)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Bilbao, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Bilbao

Create Your Own Walk in Bilbao

Creating your own self-guided walk in Bilbao is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bilbao Introduction Walking Tour

Bilbao Introduction Walking Tour

Bilbao is the largest city in northern Spain. Burial sites 6,000 years old have been found near Bilbao. A settlement of the 3rd or 2nd century BC was called Amanun Portus by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder. Ptolemy referred to it as Flaviobriga.

But today's Bilbao was founded on the banks of the Nervion River by the Lord of Biscay in the year 1300. The city was an important trading hub...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Bilbao's Old Town Walking Tour

Bilbao's Old Town Walking Tour

Bilbao's old town, also known as The Seven Streets, is the medieval heart of the city. Indeed, this ancient neighborhood, a place where the city began and which had been fortified by walls until the late 19th century, today consists of seven main streets and many narrow alleys – called cantons (kantoi, cantón) – that connect them.

Often regarded as a jewel of Basque architecture and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles