Bilbao is the largest city of the autonomous community of Basque Country, and also the capital of the province of Biscay. Bilbao is located in the north of Spain, on the river Nervión and on one of the Pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella. Since 1997 Bilbao is one of the three cities in the world with its own Guggenheim museum, the Museo Guggenheim de Bilbao. Besides Guggenheim Bilbao there are also museums in New York and Venice.
Guggenheim Bilbao; everything you need to know
For those who love modern art and architecture, the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao is an absolute must see. Since 1997 this museum shines brightly in Bilbao at the river Nervión. The construction period took about 4 years and cost about 100 million. With more than 1 million visitors a year, the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao is by far the most important landmark of Bilbao and the Basque Country.
The origin of the Guggenheim Bilbao
After the economic crisis that the city experienced in the 1990’s, the government decided it was time for a more modern city. During this urban renewal there was placed a metro in Bilbao (Euskotran), the Palacio Euskalduna, a concert and event hall and the famous Museo Guggenheim Bilbao.
At the time that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation indicated in 1990 that they were looking for a new location for a third location for a Guggenheim museum, the Basque government offered to establish the Guggenheim in the port city of Bilbao in February. The high cost that was attached to this museum didn’t scare them off, the contrary was through. They knew that this museum could change the image of Bilbao in a positive way. With the Guggenheim museum Bilbao would become world news and definitely attract a new stream of tourists.
Design by Frank Gehry
The design of the building is by American architect Frank Owen Gehry. He has ensured that a particularly impressive building emerged. The architectural style that is used is called deconstructivism. This style falls under modernism. In 2015, Gehry’s design was seen as the most important piece of architecture since 1980. At the time, the American magazine Vanity Fair time asked 52 experts what they saw as the most important architectural work of the last fifteen years. The Guggenheim Bilbao was the best. Now, years later, a lot of people still marvel at this complex design by Gehry. Every moment of the day has its charm. This is due to the combination of the forms that are used and the use of titanium. The way in which (sun) light and material work together leads to a brilliant result.
Until the construction of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, the use of titanium was rare within construction. Titanium is mainly used in aircraft construction, building missiles and for making jewelry. Because Gehry has ensured that a large part of the Guggenheim is covered with titanium, it has become a beautiful building with the brilliance of the titanium.
Around the Guggenheim
There is even art to admire for free, the building itself is perhaps the most beautiful work of art to watch. But there are also a number of pieces around the building. In front of the main entrance of the museum is ‘Puppy’ by the American artist Jeff Koons. This 12 meter high puppy is covered in about 70,000 flowers. As a result, the West Highland white terrier puppy is also called ‘Flower Puppy’. You also have the metal giant spider on the Nervión side of the museum. This spider, called Maman, is a popular photo spot for people. Maman was created by the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. The ‘Tall Tree & The Eye’ is a work of art consisting of 73 metal balls arranged around three axles.
Visiting the Guggenheim
The museum is open from 10:00 till 20:00 from Tuesday till Sunday. On many Mondays the museum is closed, but there are some exceptions that you can find on their website. The museum is closed on December 25th (Christmas Day) and January 1st. The Guggenheim closes earlier on December 24th (Christmas Eve). Tickets for the Guggenheim Bilbao can be reserved in advance via the website, so you can avoid any long queues and you can go inside without waiting.
Children under the age of 12 may enter for free. A discount rate applies for seniors and young people from 12 to 26 years of age. For a visit to the Guggenheim Bilbao you have to spend about 2 till 3 hours.
Are you curious about other fun museums in Spain? Read our blog of our six favorite museums in Spain!