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June 6, 2024

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao: Iconic Art & Architecture in Northern Spain

Guggenheim Museum BilbaoThe Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a renowned art museum and architectural landmark in the Basque Country of northern Spain. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, it has a striking exterior of curving titanium panels and a notable collection of modern and contemporary art by some of the most significant artists of the 20th century.

Guggenheim Museum BilbaoSince opening in 1997, the acclaimed museum has helped transform the once-industrial city of Bilbao into a major cultural destination.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Located on the Nervion River in a former warehouse district, Guggenheim Bilbao’s iconic architectural design is a masterpiece of deconstructivism. Fragmented, undulating shapes that resemble a docked ship draw inspiration the city’s centuries-old maritime history and past of shipbuilding and fishing industries.

The exterior components of titanium and glass reflect the changing light throughout the day.

Notable works of art surround the exterior, including Jeff Koons’ monumental Puppy (1992), a floral sculpture of a terrier made up of thousands of flowers that change with the seasons.

Also outside are sculptures Maman (1999) by Louise Bourgeois and Tall Tree & The Eye (2009) by Anish Kapoor.

Inside the museum, the soaring, light-filled atrium leads to galleries with an impressive permanent collection of works by renowned artists such as Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Yves Klein and Richard Serra.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

One of the highlights of the permanent collection is Richard Serra’s The Matter of Time (1994-2005), a series of monumental, spiraling sculptures made of weathered steel that visitors can walk through.

Also notable are Untitled (1952-53) by Mark Rothko, featuring his iconic large-scale blocks of colors…

…Jenny Holzer’s Installation for Bilbao, LED text panels in English, Spanish and Catalan…

…and works by Claes Oldenburg…

…Giovanni Anselmo…

… and El Anatsui…

The museum’s rotating temporary exhibitions showcase works by emerging and established artists. On our most recent visit, we saw Infinity Mirrored Room – A Wish for Human Happiness Calling from Beyond the Universe (2020), an installation of lights and mirrors by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has two restaurants featuring Basque cuisine: a gourmet restaurant and a more casual bistro, as well as a bar and bookstore.

Artisans of Leisure arranges expert-led private tours of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao for travelers on our private Spain tours.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Other highlights of privately touring Bilbao include exploring the medieval Old Town, browsing La Ribera Market, sampling delicious pintxos (tapas) and seeing other architectural landmarks such as the Norman Foster-designed metro, Bilbao Arena, the Zubizuri bridge, Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall, the Ministry of Public Health and Casa Montero, an Art Nouveau residential building.

We recommend combining time in Bilbao with the Rioja wine region, San Sebastian and the Pays Basque in France.

Guggenheim Museum BilbaoContact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private Spain tour that includes the cultural highlights of Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Destinations:  Europe, Spain

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