The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by North American architect Frank O. Gehry built by Ferrovial,and located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain, is a magnificent example of the most groundbreaking architecture to have come out of the 20th century. The building itself is an innovatively designed architectural landmark that creates a seductive backdrop for the exhibition of contemporary art.
The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a “signal moment in the architectural culture”, because it represents “one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something.” The museum was the building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the 2010 World Architecture Survey among architecture experts.
Gehry’s design for the 24,000 m2 Guggenheim Museum Bilbao will serve as an architectural landmark recognizable worldwide.The curves on the exterior of the building were intended to appear random.The museum’s design and construction are typical of Gehry’s style and method. Like many of his other works, it has a structure that consists of radically sculpted, organic contours. Sited as it is in a port town, it is intended to resemble a ship. Its brilliantly reflective titanium panels resemble fish scales, echoing the other organic life (and, in particular, fish-like) forms, that recur commonly in Gehry’s designs, as well as the river Nervión, upon which the museum sits. Also in typical Gehry fashion, the building is a product of the period’s technology. Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application (CATIA) and visualizations were used heavily in the structure’s design.
Inside the museum
The museum notably houses “large-scale, site-specific works and installations by contemporary artists, such as Richard Serra’s 340 ft-long Snake“, and displays the work of Basque artists, “as well as housing a selection of works” from the Foundation’s modern art collection. The exhibitions change often; the museum hosts thematic exhibitions, centered for example on Chinese or Russian art.
The permanent collection primarily includes 20th century art—traditional paintings and sculptures are a minority compared to installations and electronic forms. The highlight of the collection, and its only permanent exhibit, is The Matter of Time, a series of weathering steel sculptures designed by Serra, which is housed in the 430-foot (130 m) Arcelor Gallery (formerly known as the Fish Gallery but renamed in 2005 for the steel manufacturer that sponsored the project). The collections usually highlight Avant-garde art, 20th century abstraction, and non-objective art.
There is a tramway stop called Guggenheim 100 meters away from the museum. Line 18 of the bus system also has a nearby stop, and the museum is located 500 meters north of Moyua station on the Bilbao Metro.