Built to house some of the twentieth century's greatest works of art, the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao has instead become as artistically renowned as the paintings that hang from its walls.
Located in Spain's northern Basque region and designed by the architect Frank O. Gehry, the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao is built on a 32,500 square meter site in the center of city. The exterior of the building is a combination of interconnecting shapes. Blocks of limestone contrast with curved forms covered in half-millimeter thick "fish scale" titanium panels. The main stone, glass and titanium curves were designed with the aid of computers due to their mathematical complexity. Gazing upon the massive museum, visitors feel as if they are looking not at a building, but a huge sculpture with the city of Bilbao serving as a backdrop. That this sculpture is really an ingenuously designed, and utterly practical building, is an unparalleled example of modern construction.
From within the Guggenheim museum Bilbao Spain seems far away, as you lose yourself in the 250 works of art housed in the 11,000-square-meter building's nineteen galleries.
The Calle Iparraguirre, one of the city's main streets, will bring visitors to the main entrance of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. A flight of steps ushers pedestrians down to the Museum hall. Passing through the entrance hall, visitors come immediately to the atrium.
Once inside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, it becomes apparent beneath the complexity of the outer building there lies a clear and easily maneuverable world. It also becomes clear that Gehry makes expert use of space and perspective to create vast interior spaces that don't overwhelm visitors.
The galleries themselves are organized on three levels around the central atrium, and are interconnected by curving walkways suspended from the roof, glass elevators and winding spiral stair cases. It is a spectacular vision, almost a city with in a city, and truly among the best art tourism Spain has to offer.
And, oh yes, there is art inside the museum as well. For those who visit Spain to see modern art, the Guggenheim is a feast for the eyes. Besides work by Spanish masters (Picasso, Dali, and Miro), the museum houses post-modern American works by Rothko and De Kooning. Though what truly stands out in the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao are the site specific and installation works of art. These are usually large scale sculptures that have been created to be shown in a specific area of the Guggenheim. In short the Guggenheim is not only one of the best museums in Spain, it is itself one of the best works of art in the world, and a must see when you visit Spain.