The most famous attraction in Bilbao is undoubtedly the Guggenheim Museum and, in my humble opinion, it is well deserving of its fame. The Guggenheim Museum is wonderful in so many ways and I am always proud to recommend it or show it in person to anyone visiting Bilbao.
Photo by aherrero
“Wow!” I said (of course Laura having emailed me couldn’t hear this comment), “I can see why you are proud to take visitors there. It’s fantastic!”
Laura’s email continued:
This super-modern, titanium-covered building is an emblem of Bilbao’s recent resurgence and modernisation and Bilbaínos have a very soft spot for it in their hearts. The Guggenheim project was one of those rare occasions when the public, architects, critics and academics were united in their enthusiastic approval. I am only thirty two, but I remember a very different Bilbao when I was a child. The changes are particularly noticeable along the banks of the river Nervión in the city centre where the Guggenheim now stands. It was a much greyer landscape there twenty years or so ago, with little going on and a badly polluted, horribly smelly river. Nowadays a beautiful flower-lined walkway bustles with activity on either side of a clean and healthy Nervión.
The Guggenheim was designed by renowned Canadian architect Frank Gehry and it opened on October 18th 1997. Gehry has designed many other famous buildings around the world including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, the Vitra Design Museum and MARTa Museum in Germany, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. He is undoubtedly one of our most important contemporary architects and part of the elite group of modern architectural icons sometimes known as “Starchitects”. This group includes Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Thom Mayne, Steven Holl, Rem Koolhaas, and Norman Foster; architects all known for their dramatic, influential designs that often achieve fame and notoriety through their spectacular effect.
Photo by aslier
Bilbao’s Guggenheim may be visually striking outside, but it is no gimmick. It is beautifully designed inside and out. Its spectacular outer appearance changes like a chameleon depending on the time of day and the type of light bouncing off its curves and its interior is deceptively large thanks to Gehry’s genius use of space. I once visited it with my father-in-law, who happens to also be an architect, and I remember him being so blown away by the architectural ins and outs that he spent all his time wandering about staring at the building and completely ignored the exhibitions. The outside is covered with shiny titanium sheets and it is said that Gehry received the inspiration for his revolutionary design while looking at a fish in his bath.
The Guggenheim Museum is definitely not all about the building though. It exhibits its own private collection, in addition to sharing with New York and Venice the world’s largest and most impressive private collection of modern and contemporary art. In addition to this, there is always a different selection of high quality visiting exhibitions from Spain and around the world. The entrance fee is not cheap, but it is well worth paying and you should try to arrive as early as you can because you can easily while away the whole day there. The Guggenheim is located in a perfect spot as well to enjoy a bit of Bilbao city centre before and after your visit. La Gran Via (the main street) is only a few minutes walk away, as is El Casco Viejo (the old town).
So now, I have my motivation to learn Spanish turned up a notch. I simply MUST plan a trip to see the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa to see if measures up to the pictures, which frankly I find amazing.
Thanks for tell me about it, Laura!