The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum (in Basque, Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa) is located in the city of Bilbao in northern Spain. It is currently one of the main museums in the country, characterized by its chronological breadth, spanning from the thirteenth century to the present day, and for the great diversity of artistic styles it contains.
During the last 100 years, a collaboration between civil society, local artists and public institutions has allowed the museum to gather an extensive collection, considered one of the most important and varied in Spain. Important bequests and donations received from patrons and benefactors, as well as the continuous effort on the part of the museum itself to expand it through acquisitions have built an impressive collection. Since its creation, the museum’s interest in establishing a representative artistic compendium has made it possible to refine a selection criterion to present the public with an extensive overview of the history of art.
Content - Fine arts museum in Bilbao visitor guide
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with free hours from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
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More than 10,000 objects make up the museum’s collection which is divided into five main sections: Ancient Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Basque Art, Work on Paper and Applied Arts.
The backbone of the collection is the Spanish school, with ancient and modern examples complemented by Basque art in the contemporary age. The wide representation of other schools such as Flemish and Dutch between the 15th and 17th centuries, unique works of the Italian school, as well as some examples of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist avant-garde, offer the necessary international context to Spanish and Basque art.
As a public cultural entity, the museum’s main mission is to gather, preserve, study and exhibit its own collection, ensure its enrichment, maintain services and promote quality activities in order to contribute decisively to the education of society and to the projection of the cultural values of the Basque Autonomous Community.
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a magnificent place where you can enjoy the most beautiful and impressive works of art in all of Bilbao, Spain, and possibly the world.
Unlike the Guggenheim Museum, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum not only exhibits contemporary art, but reflects more than 100 years of history and contains a large number of collections from other eras that have been assembled.
The Exhibitions of the Museum of Fine Arts are varied and quite dynamic. The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is constantly rotating and updating works so visiting the museum is a new experience each time you go.
Thanks to the 110 years the museum has been in business, it decided to hold an exhibition containing 110 artistic works to commemorate the years of experience in the city of Bilbao. The opening of the exhibition was held on October 5 and, according to official statements of the museum, it is estimated that it has 14,000 works collected from 1904 to the present day.
There are 1,621 paintings, 489 sculptures, 884 decorative pieces, 11,152 works made on paper, and more than 3,000 works that are in the warehouse for conservation reasons.
This exhibition was in the BBK room of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and continued on the upper floor in room number 32.
The exhibition was presented in chronological order, according to the era the 110 paintings and sculptures the museum presented on this occasion were made.
In addition, the works were supported by videos and multimedia, with the purpose of showing the viewers a history of their authors and to show the process of creating the artistic work.
The itinerary began with the romantic copies of the Catalan artists from the12th century, exhibiting works carved in wood.
The exhibit continued with the presentation of Renaissance works dating from the XV, XVI and XVII centuries, highlighted by the Flemish artists of the time such as Lucas Cranach El Viejo.
The following group contained examples from the Spanish Baroque style dating from the late seventeenth century featuring Francisco de Herrera el Viejo and José de Ribera.
The exhibition ends with naturalistic works of the 18th century, together with representations dating from the 19th and 20th centuries in the artistic history of Bilbao.
The exhibitions of the Museum of Fine Arts are made up of a myriad of works, both sculptures and paintings, most of which are authors from the Basque province.
The collections contained in the museum range from the 12th century to today. They bring together sculptures and paintings from different ages and eras.
It is important to know the main characteristics of the ancient, modern and contemporary times that the museum has on display.
Ancient art is also called “the art of antiquity” because it managed to radically change the history of art and the history of humanity in general.
From this ancient time forward, art takes on another meaning. Its representations were more specific, technical and had a different and modified ideological meaning.
These types of artistic representations date back to the 4th century BC ending with the fall of the Carolingian Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.
Some of the works that we find are: “Venus de Willendorf”, “Bisonte de Altamira”, and “Judgment of the Soul”. During this period works of the Egyptians and Greeks stood out.
This artistic period had its peak in the 15th century and the end of the 17th century and was called the “beautiful age of art” thanks to the change that took place in terms of lines.
In this period, paintings and sculptures based on nature and the human figure stand out. The lines and sculptures are more curved and defined, especially when depicting women.
Contemporary art, which is currently being developed in our time, is marked by the combinations of colors and abstract designs.
In this type of art, the naked human figure is no longer defined. In some works the physical features are enlarged, a style that later came to be called caricature.
Of these three types of art in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Renaissance-type works are most represented due to the abundance of artists that flourished and produced work throughout Europe during this great cultural rebirth.
The focus on this era of art history is also due to the fact that the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is dedicated solely to contemporary art.
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is one of the most important museums in all of Spain, thanks to its great artistic breadth and chronological depth.
This museum has more than 10,000 items that were donated over the years by artists, after holding their exhibitions at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in Spain.
The museum’s collection is classified according to the era from which the artistic pieces date, divided into ancient art, modern art, contemporary art, and Basque art.
This arose through the union of the Bilbao Museum inaugurated in 1904 and the Museum of Modern Art inaugurated in 1924.
As the years went by, the collections grew in value beyond the commercial worth of the works. The artistic and cultural value of the museum’s content is priceless.
As a public cultural entity in the region, it has the responsibility of keeping, exhibiting and preserving its own collections and maintaining the good services that they can provide to the public.
All this has the purpose of encouraging the public to develop a taste and admiration of the arts, and to promote study and enrichment of their knowledge.
The Museum opened its doors for the first time in 1914 despite the fact it was built in 1904 for the purpose of modernizing Bilbao and providing an artistic center in the Basque region.
Due to the war, the original building of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum was totally damaged. Although the artistic works that were inside it were salvaged.
In contrast, the Museum of Modern Art did not share the same fate. The works in it were expatriated and recovering them was not easy.
Finally, in 1945, the construction of a building was completed that would house the two museums and all the artistic works that were in both.
Currently the museum has more than 10,000 artistic works divided as follows; 1,500 paintings, 400 sculptures and 6,500 works on paper at least and a thousand applied pieces.
The museum has always had a special interest in the paintings and creations of the “Spanish School of Painting”, especially the Greek one.
The museum is located in the heart of Bilbao’s old quarter, right next to the famous Doña Casilda Park and the Nervión river.
How much time does it take to walk from the Guggenheim to the Fine arts museum of Bilbao? Just 5 minutes. So you can enjoy both museums in a day and grab some pintxos on the way!
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You can find more ideas to spend your getaway in Bilbao. If you are interested in art we also recommend you this guide with Spain´s top art museums.