Recently I had the chance of visiting the Basque country. So, today we spoke about one of the most suggesting museum in the world: the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

In a bit to rejuvenate Bilbao after the downfall of its industri in the 1980’s, the Basque Administrations got in touch with the Guggenheim Foundation at the start of 1991 in order to set up a consortium that would authorize the construction of a contemporary art gallery. Just six months after the first meeting between the Basque Administrations and the Foundation, the Museum’s location had already agreed on as well as the architect that would design it_ Frank O.Gehry. The mere presence of the Guggenheim, has been the trigger for Bilbao’s transformation, in just a few years, many buildings and emblematic infrastructures have been erected around the Museum by prestigious architects such as Arata Isozaki, Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, and more. Whose projects in Bilbao would never have evolved without the determination of the Basque Administrations, Krens and Gehry.

Around the late 1980’s, the abandonment of factories, shipyards and industrial infrastructures made the cleaning up of Bilbao’s estuary possible. This meant that many sites on the Nervion’s banks were now available for the construction of residential and civic properties, with the result that the watercourse turned into the very backbone of the city. The choice of spectacular architectonic projects for this zone, with Guggenheim Bilbao at the forefront, acted as a starting point of a virtuous circle that attracted tourism and trade the city. In a short period of time, Bilbao went from being a city dominated by industry to a city with a large number of its hinabitants working in the service sector, with the subsequent positive effect on the quality of life, with Bilbao entering the 21st century as a first rate European centre of development.

Born in Philadelphia (USA), Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861-1949) was one of ten children of a Swiss immigrant who made his fortune in the business of gold, silver and copper mining. His wife, Irene Rothschild, from a wealthy family of bankers, introduced Guggenheim to painting, but it was German artist and aristocrat Hilla Rebay who introduced the businessman to abstract art and helped him establish a foundation in 1937 for the promotion of contemporary art which she would be director of. Because the first two New York headquarters were getting rather small, Guggenheim commissioned organic style architect Frank Lloyd Wright with a museum next Central Park where his large collection could be shown. Although neither the developer nor Wright got to see it finished, the building was opened in 1959.

Stay tuned for discover more information about the Guggenheim museum of Bilbao.


SERRALLER Francisco Calco, Permanent Collection Guggenheim Bilbao, TF Editores, 2010
DOS DE ARTE EDICIONES, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao – Guia Visual, 2015
ZULAIKA Joseba, Guggenheim Bilbao Museo: Museums, Architecture, and City Renewal, University of Nevada Rena, Basque Studies Program, 2002

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