Updated: 09.25.2022 01:03 a.m.
At the end of the 20th century the basque steel industry entered a deep recession. The progressive closure of shipyards and the blast furnace of Bilbao left behind a totally devastated cityplunged into a deep economic and social crisis. The inherited urban landscape, after decades of intense industrial activity, looked no less bleak. The margins of nervethat had housed all the necessary infrastructure for the development of port activities, showed a post-apocalyptic scenario of abandoned factories.
The Basque Administrations knew that it was time to reinvent themselves, perhaps revitalize the city, clean up the polluted estuary and regenerate the city. It was urgent to change the exhausted industrial model on the other radically opposite, they need a new economy engine. They invested effort and a lot of money in providing Bilbao with modern infrastructures, new buildings Y museums. It was then that they contacted the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The rest is history.
Bilbao from the Artxanda viewpoint / YOLANDA CARDO – CG
The cornerstone of a unique transformation
Although at first it was thought to rehabilitate the Alhóndiga to locate the foundation’s franchise there, Frank Gehrythe architect in charge of the project, finally decided to build a new building on the left bank of the estuary, next to the La Salve bridge.
When on October 18, 1997 the Guggenheim museum opened its doors for the first time to the public, a new era was also inaugurated, eager to leave behind that grey, dirty and decadent Bilbao. Gehry’s iconic building was the catalyst for urban transformation of the city and absolute architect of the so-called bilbao effect. With its 24,000 square meters of surface, of which 9,000 are exhibition space, the innovative museum is a work of art in itself. A spectacular sculptural structure, coated in titanium, converted into unmistakable symbol of the new Basque identity.
The Guggenheim Museum from the Pedro Arrupe footbridge / GUGGENHEIM BILBAO
Titanium plates, gigantic puppy and a spider
Initially other materials were considered to cover it. “We test with the stainless steel next to the estuary, but when it rained, on cloudy days, it seemed dead. We did everything to it: we hit it, we embossed it, we treated it with acid… We tried all the manual resources to make the material more expressive”, explained Gehry. But the experiments proved frustrating.
thanks, one fine day I found by chance a piece of titanium in his study and showed that with the rain he acquired a mesmerizing golden hue, employed then employed in the project. In this way the building acquires a different appearance depending on the light reflected on the surface throughout the day. An extraordinary architectural work sheltered by the photogenic Puppy, the mighty and majestic flower puppy que jeff koons created to instill “confidence and security” in visitors or the Breastthe giant spider almost nine meters high louis bourgeois which stands next to the access to the estuary.
The Matter of Time by Richard Serra inside the museum / GUGGENHEIM BILBAO
International museum references
In its 25 years of life, the Bilbao institution has managed to link its name to that of the best artists of all time, positioning itself in the elitist international cultural orbit. Since his first major exhibition entitled The Guggenheim museums and the art of this centuryof the Solomon Foundation, from its walls have hung works by the great artists of all time: Miguel Angel, Dürer, ruben, Zurbaran, picasso, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Chagall, Giacometti, hockey, Bacon, Tàpies, screeching, Warhol, Lee Krasner, alice neel Y Egon Schiele to name just a few.
A year of celebrations
Throughout this remarkable year, the public has enjoyed an intense program. opened in February From Fauvism to Surrealism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris and retrospective jean dubuffet. Mister foster norman took over in April with his success Movement. Cars, Art, Architecture which has just closed its doors after receiving 751,300 visitors in just over five months. The culmination of the anniversary will come with the celebration of various events such as concerts or open-air shows and the inauguration, on October 18, of Sections/Intersections. 25 years of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection, an ambitious show that thematically all its funds. A well-deserved finishing touch to commemorate that commitment that began 25 years ago.
Mural no. 831 by Sol Hewitt / GUGGENHEIM BILBAO
But the power of this amazing trigger that transformed the city continues to exert its influence. In the summer of 2024, the expansion of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museumexecuted by foster norman Y Luis Maria Uriarteand during the coming years we will witness the transformation of the artificial island of foxzaurre in the Manhattan Bilbao. A comprehensive regeneration plan, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, which plan to convert this old port area of the Deusto canal into a new neighborhood with residential areas, cultural facilities and a business technology park. The shock wave of the “Bilbao effect” continues.
Jeff Koons’ tulips decorate the exterior of the museum / GUGGENHEIM BILBAO