Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao – Spain

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao looks like free growing mushrooms on an early autumn morning

Frank Gerry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has really put this city on the map! Bilbao used to be a tired industrial town. Actually not so unlike our hometown Fredrikstad in Norway, however larger! With a surreal building the character of the city changed completely and is today an important tourist destination in North Spain. We visited Bilbao for the first time in 2002 and were exited over both architecture and the exhibitions inside this great museum. We also found the city itself charming, situated along the river Nervion.

In 2000 I was attending a seminar about city development and got to hear a lesson from one of the responsible persons for Bilbao`s city development. He told us that they had a long perspective in the city development. In fact they started with a serious review of the infra structure and an improvement of public transport. The famous museum came later and then the city was ready to receive all the tourists. More than a million came during the first year more than the most optimistic had hoped for.

The Guggenheim Museum opened in 1997. The outside structure is titan and glass. The architect Frank Gehry has created an absurd and playful building. At first glance quite different from anything else! But after all, may be not so unlike the Spanish tradition that among others, Antoni Gaudi stands for.

Today we are back in Bilbao after 11 years and the city has developed further. The museum restaurant at Guggenheim has gained a reputation for being a superb eating-place, simple and informal but with food of excellent quality.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in early morning
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in early morning
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao view from Hotel Silken`s terrace
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao view from Hotel Silken`s terrace

Guggenheim Museum is clad with titanium plates and if you get up early in the morning, you can experience how the plates glows like gold as the sun is coming up over the ridge. The museum gets a warm golden glow and the surreal architecture becomes even more magic. When we came here 11 years ago we came in a small mobile home and stayed the night at the parking place just outside the museum`s entrance. Today this area is converted into a beautiful park with playgrounds for children and a whole new route for the city tram. We woke up very early because of the noise from sweeper- and waste cars and was so lucky to see a fairytale building glowing in the sun.

Guggenheim Museum is absolutely worth a new visit. On first floor in the long side building, there is a permanent exhibition by Richard Serra. His gigantic work The Matter of Time is special made for this room, the largest exhibition room in the museum. We found it just as fun and interesting as we did 11 years ago. Guggenheim Museum is powerful and you should set aside some time to enjoy not only the exterior, but also the special architecture from the inside.

Jeff Coons "Puppy" in front of Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Jeff Coons “Puppy” in front of Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Outside the Guggenheim Museum there are several permanent sculptures who create an exiting contrast against the museum`s shiny facade. At the front looking towards the narrow streets sits Puppy made by Jeff Coons. Puppy is an enormous puppy covered with flowers! From far away in one of the streets you can see the flowering puppy fill up the whole end of the street with the shiny façade in the background. Jeff Koons has also a sculpture on the other side of the museum facing the river. This is a bouquet of shiny colorful flowers.

Most famous is probably the big spider by Louise Bourgeois. The spider is situated on the walkway passing the museum along the river. The sculptures name is “Mama” and the slim legs and the body with eggs works just perfect against Frank Gerry’s splendid architecture.

Per and "Mamma" av Louise Bourgeois, Guggenheim Museet Bilbao
Per and “Mama” av Louise Bourgeois, Guggenheim Museet Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, sculpture by Jeff Coons
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, sculpture by Jeff Coons
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