The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a contemporary art museum which is located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The museum was inaugurated on October 18, 1997, by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, displaying 250 works of contemporary art. Built on the banks of the Nervion River, which flows through Bilbao into the Cantabrian Sea, the museum is one of several museums owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, featuring permanent and visiting exhibitions by Spanish and international artists. This is one of the largest museums in Spain.
One of the most admired works of modern architecture, the building has been hailed as a “significant moment in the architectural culture” because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics, scholars and the general public are completely at one with something.” says architecture critic Paul Goldberger.
The museum was the most frequently cited building by architecture experts in the 2010 World Architecture Review as one of the most important works completed since 1980.
An Introduction & History of Guggenheim Museum
In 1991, the Basque government provided funding to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to establish the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao’s run-down coastal area, once the city’s main source of income. The Basque government agreed to provide $100 million in construction costs, $50 million in acquisition funds, a lump sum of $20 million for the Guggenheim Museum, and $12 million in the annual budget for the museum.
In return, the Foundation agreed to manage the institution, circulate parts of the permanent collection through the Bilbao Museum and organize temporary exhibitions.
Ferrovial built the museum for US$89 million. About 5,000 Bilbao residents attended the pre-opening extravaganza, including an outdoor light show and concert the night before the official opening. On October 18, 1997, King Juan Carlos I of Spain inaugurated the museum. On the 13th, two ETA gunmen shot and killed a Basque police officer who had thwarted an attempt to set up a grenade launcher to attack the entrance.
The Building of Guggenheim Museum
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation chose Frank Gehry as its architect, and Thomas Krens, its director, encouraged him to design something bold and innovative. The curves on the outside of the building are intended to look random. “The randomness of the curves is meant to capture the light,” said the architect. The interior is “designed around a large, well-lit atrium overlooking the Bilbao Estuary and the surrounding hills of the Basque Country.” The atrium, nicknamed the Flower because of its shape Gehry, serves as the museum’s organizing center.
When the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum opened to the public in 1997, it was immediately acclaimed as one of the world’s most spectacular deconstructivist buildings (although Gehry did not consider himself a deconstructivist architectural movement). It is a masterpiece of the 20th century.
Architect Philip Johnson called it “the greatest building of our time,” Critic Calvin Tomkins of The New Yorker described it as “a fantastic dream ship undulating on a titanium mantle,” with its shiny reflective panels also reminiscent of fish scales. Herbert Muschamp praised the “mobile brilliance” in The New York Times Magazine. The Independent calls the museum “a remarkable architectural feat.”
The museum is organically integrated into the urban context, revealing interlocking forms of stone, glass and titanium on a 32,500 square meter (350,000 sq ft) site along the Nervion River in the city’s ancient industrial heartland. It’s modest at street level but most impressive when viewed from the river.
Foundation of Guggenheim Museum
More than 25,000 tons (25,000 long tons; 28,000 short tons) of concrete or 10,000 cubic meters (350,000 cubic feet) were used, as the museum building required a deep and strong foundation. The basic was laid on reinforced concrete piles driven into the rock at an average depth of 14 m.
The building sits on a dirt bed in the nearby Bilbao Estuary and requires 665 stakes to be driven into the ground by excavators.
Cladding of all over the Guggenheim Museum
The building’s floors are covered with beige limestone from the Huescar quarry near Granada, cut from 5 cm thick slabs, and thanks to specially treated walls to protect the interior from the sun, the building is bright. The glass in the windows has also been treated so that the light does not damage exposed areas.
It is covered with scaled titanium plates on a galvanized steel structure. The outer skin of the museum is made of 33,000 titanium plates, which were used as substitutes for copper or lead because of their toxicity. Many tests were conducted with different materials to find one that could withstand heat and adverse weather conditions while retaining its properties. During this research, titanium samples were tested, and the best treatment was found.
Virtual Building of Guggenheim Museum
In the fall of 1993, architects Gehry Partners began using CATIA software from Dassault Systèmes to digitize and model the exterior of the museum project during the schematic design phase of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Essentially, the software calculates the stress applied to the material point by point, creating a 3D model showing the various stresses and allowing you to calculate the values of many structural elements of the museum, such as steel structures, titanium cladding or foundations, etc. It also helped automate cutting materials such as stone or titanium plates.
Exhibitions of Guggenheim Museum
The museum features “large-scale works and site-specific installations by contemporary artists”, such as Richard Serra’s 100-meter snake, and works by Basque artists, collections Fund for Contemporary Art. In 1997, the exhibition “The Guggenheim Museum and Art of This Century” examined 300 works of art from the 20th century.t from Cubism to new media. Most of the exhibits come from the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. However, the museum also assembled paintings by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still and commissioned new works by Francesco Clemente, Anselm Kiefer, Jenny Holzer, and Richard Serra.
Exhibits change frequently. Museums usually hold thematic exhibitions dedicated to, for example, Chinese or Russian art.
Traditional paintings and sculptures are in the minority compared to installations and electronic formats. The highlight of the collection, and the only permanent exhibition, is The Matter of Time, a series of weathering steel sculptures designed by Serra, in the 130-meter Arcelor gallery (previously containing early works by a snake). It was known as the Fish Gallery but was renamed in 2005 to honor the steelmaker that sponsored the project.
Media and Economic Impact on Guggenheim Museum
The museum was opened as part of Bilbao’s urban regeneration efforts. Shortly after opening, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has become a popular tourist attraction, attracting visitors from all over the world. In the first three years, about 4 million tourists visited the museum, generating economic activity of about 500 million euros. The local council has calculated that visitors’ spending on hotels, restaurants, shops and transport generates €100 million in taxes, more than covering the cost of buildings.
The building was featured as the title of the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough and as the backdrop for the music video for the song “Style” composed by A. Rahman in the Tamil film Shivaji (2007). The music video for Mariah Carey’s “Sweetheart,” directed by Hype Williams, shows singers Jermaine Dupree and Carey in various locations at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Controversy over Guggenheim Museum
According to a report published in 2007 by the Basque Audit Office, the museum paid more than $27 million between 2002 and 2005 to purchase art, including Serra’s “A Matter of Time” for the ground floor cave gallery.
After another audit in 2008 in which money appeared to have been taken from the account, the fund sued director Roberto Sersolo Barrenechea for “financial and accounting irregularities,” alleging that he had taken money from the two companies that controlled the fund claimed to have admitted it. The Guggenheim building in Bilbao and the art collection since 1998 at his expense.
The best hotels near Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
- Bilbao Heart 2BDR Apartment – Reformado Julio 2021
- Inside Bilbao Apartments
- Cosy Room – Guggen º PARKING FREE
- En pleno centro de Bilbao y muy cerca del GUGGENHEIM
- Bilbao Centric Apartments
- Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao