Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Having been let down on my wine tour – more of that later – I was, therefore, at a loose end. I only had the afternoon left to me but I couldn’t come all this way without seeing Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Occasionally it’s nice to do the touristy things, there is a reason why they are tourist attractions!
Not normally being big on architecture, however, I do like Frank Gehry’s Dancing house, it’s in one of my favourite cities in the world, Prague. For this reason, I’d been intrigued by photos of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, mainly on a windows screen saver, yes, I’m that much of an architecture philistine! Consequently, it has been on my list of things to see.
Opened in 1997, public and critics surprisingly gave it a warm reception by and large, which is arguably highly unusual in itself. It opened as part of the Bilbao revitalisation program, and as a result has been a huge success. As a result, it has brought in a huge number of tourists from around the globe. Visited by nearly 4 million tourists in its first 3 years it has been undeniably, a big draw.
Due to it’s striking appearance, it has featured in films such as ‘The World is not Enough’ and music videos like Mariah Carey’s ‘Sweetheart’ it has quickly established itself into world consciousness.
Ultimately responsible for what is known as the ‘Bilbao Effect’ which is, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘Build something weird and people will come look at it and spend a shed-load of cash’.
Gehrys’ design situated by the River Nervion commands attention. Stone, glass and titanium make up the construction of the building and I was genuinely impressed by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It’s seemingly random curves reflect the light to give different views from different positions, furthermore, different weather conditions give it a whole different appearance too! When I first arrived it was raining but after an hour the sun came out and because of that, it was almost looking like a different building.
There is a bridge just upstream and another one downstream and they make great viewing platforms. Crossing the westerly bridge, I strolled up the other side of the river taking in the wider view, then crossed back on the higher easterly bridge for different perspectives.
Of course, it attracts a lot of visitors and there were many people doing exactly the same as me wandering and enjoying a truly spectacular building. Because of that, it also appears to be selfie central!
The impression I took away from the Guggenheim Museum was one of a giant ship setting sail through the town. Undeniably beautiful, Frank Gehry’s vision is pleasing to the eye in its quirkiness of design. Bold curves combine with details to make you think. Should a giant ship should be ploughing through downtown Bilbao is not a question, in my opinion, to ask! It ‘is’ and seems right!
In conclusion, if you do appreciate architecture or are just in the area the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is definitely worth a visit, even if you are a philistine like me!
Around the Museum
‘Maman’ by Louise Bourgeois
I found this installation slightly ( read VERY ) disturbing, on account of being an Arachnophobe. Obviously, you can see from the pictures as to why! ‘Maman’ is nearly 9 metres tall and I couldn’t walk under it!
‘Puppy’ by Jeff Koons
Much as ‘Maman’ obviously inspired fear in me, ‘Puppy’ I found cute. Bedding plants make up the design and will be even more spectacular when they fully flower. Brilliantly, there were even birds nesting under the jaw when I was there. Internally, it has a trap door at the top and the 25 tons of soil are watered by an internal irrigation system. I’m also guessing the flowers are not ‘dead-headed’ too often!
Museum Entry (prices correct at time of writing)
Adults: 10 €
Senior: 6 €
Groups: > 20 pax. 9 €
Students: (< 26 years) 6 €
Open every day except Monday, see below for more information;
- Designed by Frank Gehry
- Sinuous curves
- Made of stone, glass and Titanium
- A must see in Bilbao
- Built in the old port area
- Generated millions for the local economy
More information can be found on the Guggenheim’s own website, here
Photographs taken with Nikon D40x and 18-55mm lens and Samsung s7
For more Gehry Architecture, see here