Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

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The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 of modern and contemporary art, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
Frank Owen Gehry, is a Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles, California.His buildings, including his private residence, have become tourist attractions...

, built by Ferrovial
Ferrovial, S.A. is a Spanish multinational company involved in the design, build, financing, operation and maintenance of transport, urban and services infrastructure. It is a publicly-traded company and is part of the IBEX 35 market value-weighted stock market index...

, and located in Bilbao
Bilbao ) is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 , it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain...

, Basque Country
Basque Country (autonomous community)
The Basque Country is an autonomous community of northern Spain. It includes the Basque provinces of Álava, Biscay and Gipuzkoa, also called Historical Territories....

, Spain. It is built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao to the Atlantic Coast. The Guggenheim is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1937 by philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim and artist Hilla von Rebay. The first museum established by the foundation was the "Museum of Non-Objective Art", which was housed in rented space on Park Avenue in New York....

. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.

One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture
Contemporary architecture
Contemporary architecture is generally speaking the architecture of the present time.The term contemporary architecture is also applied to a range of styles of recently built structures and space which are optimized for current use....

, 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
World Architecture Survey
The World Architecture Survey was conducted in 2010 by the American magazine Vanity Fair, to determine the most important works of contemporary architecture...

 among architecture experts.


The curves on the building were to appear random. The architect said that "the randomness of the curves are designed to catch the light". When it was opened to the public in 1997, it was immediately hailed as one of the world's most spectacular buildings in the style of Deconstructivism
Deconstructivism is a development of postmodern architecture that began in the late 1980s. It is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, an interest in manipulating ideas of a structure's surface or skin, non-rectilinear shapes which serve to distort and dislocate some of the elements of...

, although Gehry does not associate himself with that architectural movement. Architect Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson
Philip Cortelyou Johnson was an influential American architect.In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later , as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture...

 called it "the greatest building of our time".

The museum's design, and construction, serve as an object lesson in Gehry's style and method. Like many of Gehry's 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
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 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 uniquely a product of the period's technology. Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application (CATIA
CATIA is a multi-platform CAD/CAM/CAE commercial software suite developed by the French company Dassault Systemes...

) and visualizations were used heavily in the structure's design.

Computer simulations of the building's structure made it feasible to build shapes that architects of earlier eras would have found nearly impossible to construct. While the museum is a spectacular monument from the river, at street level it is quite modest, and does not overwhelm its traditional surroundings. The museum was opened as part of a revitalization effort for the city of Bilbao. Almost immediately after its opening, the Guggenheim Bilbao
Bilbao ) is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 , it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain...

 became a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the globe.
It was widely credited with "putting Bilbao on the map" and subsequently inspired other structures of similar design across the globe, such as the Cerritos Millennium Library
Cerritos Millennium Library
The Cerritos Library, the New Cerritos Library, or the Cerritos Public Library is the civic library for the City of Cerritos, California. It was rededicated on March 16, 2002 with the new moniker and the current futuristic design. It was the first building to feature an exterior clad with titanium...

 in Cerritos, California
Cerritos, California
Cerritos is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, and is one of several cities that constitute the Gateway Cities of southeast Los Angeles County. It was incorporated on April 24, 1956...


The building was constructed on time and budget, which is rare for architecture of this type. In an interview in Harvard Design
Magazine Gehry explained how he did it. First, he ensured that what he calls the "organization of the artist
Organization of the artist
The organization of the artist is a concept devised by architect Frank Gehry and first used in writing by Oxford University professor Bent Flyvbjerg in 2005 in Harvard Design Magazine. The term denotes the organizational set-up Gehry enforces when his designs are being built to avoid subordination...

" prevailed during construction, in order to prevent political and business interests from interfering with the design. Second, he made sure he had a detailed and realistic cost estimate before proceeding. Third, he used CATIA and collaborated closely with the individual building trades to control costs during construction.


The exhibitions in the museum itself change often, the museum hosts thematic exhibitions, centered for example on Chinese
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

 or Russian art.
The museum's permanent collection concerns 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 Richard Serra
Richard Serra
Richard Serra is an American minimalist sculptor and video artist known for working with large-scale assemblies of sheet metal. Serra was involved in the Process Art Movement.-Early life and education:...

 and housed in the 430 feet (131.1 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
EuskoTran is a light rail tram service which operates in the cities of Bilbao , Vitoria and, in the future, in the town of Leioa , all of them in the Basque Country, Spain. It is one of the three commercial brands of the public society owned by the Basque Government, Eusko Trenbideak -...

 stop called Guggenheim 100 meters away from the museum. Line 18 of the bus system
Bilbobus is the name for metropolitan bus services in Bilbao.The service is owned by the city council of Bilbao. Operations will be transferred to Veolia Transport, the company that won the contract in May 2008...

 also has a nearby stop.
The museum is located 500 meters north of Moyua
Moyua Station
Moyua is a station of the Line 1 and Line 2 of Metro Bilbao. The station before is Indautxu and the station after is Abando. It is located in the neighborhood of Abando in the district of the same name, in the city of Bilbao. It is located under the Moyua Square...

 station on the Bilbao Metro
Metro Bilbao
Metro Bilbao is a rapid transit system serving the city of Bilbao and the region of Greater Bilbao. Its lines have a "Y" shape, with two lines that transit both banks of the Nervión river and then combine to form one line that ends in the south of Bilbao...


Media impact

  • The building can be seen in the 1999 James Bond
    James Bond
    James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

     film The World Is Not Enough
    The World Is Not Enough
    The World Is Not Enough is the nineteenth spy film in the James Bond film series, and the third to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was directed by Michael Apted, with the original story and screenplay written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein. It...

    in the opening sequence where Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan
    Pierce Brosnan
    Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years...

    ) steals a case of British money from a corrupt Swiss banker (played by Patrick Malahide
    Patrick Malahide
    Patrick Malahide is a British actor, who has played many major film and television roles.-Personal life:Malahide, real name Patrick Gerald Duggan, was born in Reading, Berkshire, the son of Irish immigrants, a cook mother and a school secretary father...

    ) affiliated with the villain Renard's terrorist network.
  • The building was featured in Rajinikanth's mega-budget flick, Sivaji: The Boss
    Sivaji: The Boss
    Sivaji is a 2007 Tamil political thriller film directed by S. Shankar and produced by AVM Productions. Rajinikanth and Shriya Saran played the lead roles, with Suman, Vivek and Raghuvaran playing other significant roles in the film. A. R. Rahman composed the film's soundtrack and background music,...

    by S. Shankar
    S. Shankar
    Shankar is an Indian film director and producer who predominantly works in Tamil cinema. He made his directional debut in Gentleman for which he was awarded the Filmfare Best Director Award...

     for the song Style
    Style (2007 song)
    "Style" is a song from the Tamil film Sivaji: The Boss starring Rajinikanth and Shriya Saran, directed by Shankar. The music was composed by the A. R. Rahman, lyrics were written by newcomer Pa. Vijay and sung by Blaaze, Tanvi, Ravi "Rags" Khote and Suresh Peters...

    composed by music composer, A.R. Rahman. The song sequence, choreographed by Prabhu Deva, was shot for 16 days.
  • The building was featured on a poster presented to Arthur Read
    Arthur Read
    Arthur Timothy Read is the title character of both the book series and the PBS children's television show Arthur which was created by Marc Brown. On the show, he is eight years old, in Mr. Ratburn's third grade class, and lives in Elwood City...

     and his friends by Frank Gehry
    Frank Gehry
    Frank Owen Gehry, is a Canadian American Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles, California.His buildings, including his private residence, have become tourist attractions...

     on the television series
    Arthur (TV series)
    Arthur is an American/Canadian animated educational television series for children, created by Cookie Jar Group and WGBH for the Public Broadcasting Service...

     that was named after Arthur. The poster had Gehry's signature on it.
  • Mariah Carey's music video "Sweetheart", directed by Hype Williams, shows singers Dupri and Carey in various locations at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
  • The building is featured in the computer game SimCity 4
    SimCity 4
    SimCity 4 is a city-building/urban planning simulation computer game developed by Maxis, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. It was released on January 14, 2003. It is the fourth installment in the SimCity series. SimCity 4 has a single expansion pack called Rush Hour which adds features to the game...

     as a buildable landmark.

See also

  • 12 Treasures of Spain
    12 Treasures of Spain
    The 12 Treasures of Spain was a project that selected the purported "Twelve Treasures of the Spanish Nation". The contest was conducted by companies Antena 3 and Cope. The final results were announced on 31 December 2007...

  • Guggenheim family
    Guggenheim family
    The Guggenheim family is an American family, of Swiss Jewish ancestry. Beginning with Meyer Guggenheim, who arrived in America in 1847, the family were known for their global successes in mining and smelting . During the 19th century, the family possessed one of the largest fortunes in the world...

  • The Globalized City
    The Globalized City
    The Globalized City: Economic Restructing and Social Polarization in European Cities is a collection of discussions and case studies of large-scale urban development projects in nine European cities...

    , a publication doing case studies on the museum as a large scale development project
  • Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
    Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
    The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art is situated in the Plaça dels Àngels, in El Raval, Ciutat Vella, Barcelona, Spain. The museum opened to the public on November 28, 1995. Its current director is Bartomeu Marí . Previous directors were Daniel Giralt-Miracle , Miguel Molins , Manuel J...

  • Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre de Alcalá de Henares
    Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre de Alcalá de Henares
    The Museum of Outdoor Sculpture of Alcala de Henares is a permanent exhibition of contemporary art in public Alcalá de Henares ​​, opened in 1993 and organized by the sculptor José Noja....

  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
    Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
    The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is the official name of Spain's national museum of 20th century art . The museum was officially inaugurated on September 10, 1992 and is named for Queen Sofia of Spain...

  • The organization of the artist
  • URSPIC, a research project that analysed impacts of the museum on Bilbao
    Bilbao ) is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 , it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain...

External links