The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao 

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao is the city’s most emblematic monument. A visit to Bilbao wouldn’t be complete without at least strolling by and admiring it from the outside.

This spectacular shimmering building on the bank of the Nervión river is itself a piece of art. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the museum is considered one of the premier examples of contemporary architecture, and has been hailed as a “signal moment in the architectural culture”.

Construction on the Museum began in 1991 when the Basque government offered to fund a Guggenheim museum with the intention of renovating the area of the Bilbao port that had fallen into disrepair but had once been the city’s main source of income. The museum finally opened its doors on 18 October 1997 and was inaugurated by the King, Juan Carlos I of Spain.

The Guggenheim Museum is home to over 250 contemporary works of art and features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by international and national artists alike. It is also the third-largest museum in Spain behind the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofía.

It is said that there are several ways to visit the Museum.  The first one is from the outside. The building itself is an amazing, gigantic sculpture. It changes during the day, and there is no single angle that is the same as the next. The exterior of the Museum is adorned with different sculptures and there are always street performers and vendors surrounding the Museum making the outside of the Guggenheim an experience onto itself. 

The reason why the building changes during the day is because of the effect of light and the titanium Frank Gehry used on the exterior of the building. As the light changes during the day, so does the colors reflected by the Museums exterior. 

Permanent exhibits include works from some of the most influential artists of the second half of the XX century such as Eduardo Chillida, Yves Klein, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Clyfford Still, Antoni Tàpies and Andy Warhol.

In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum offers a wide variety of different experiences that come and go including festivals, concerts, conferences, and workshops. 

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Who designed the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao?

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation chose Mr. Gehry and encouraged him to design something daring and unique.

Gehry described the design of the building’s exterior as “to appear random”, but in actuality, the characteristic curves and waves that decorate the outside of the museum are carefully placed to “catch the light”, as Gehry himself puts it. “The interior is designed around a large, light-filled atrium” Gehry explains “with views of Bilbao’s estuary and the surrounding hills of the Basque country”. Nicknamed “the Flower” thanks to its shape, the atrium is the heart of the museum where the flow of guests is organized and distributed.

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao ha long been considered one of the world’s most spectacular buildings in the style of Deconstructivism and a 20th century masterpiece. The museum features interconnecting shapes of stone, glass and titanium and occupies 32,500-square-meter (350,000 sq ft) of real estate on the banks of the Nervión River, which runs through the center of Bilbao.

The interior offers a total of 24,000 m2 (260,000 sq ft), 11,000 m2 (120,000 sq ft) of which are dedicated to exhibition space, which are distributed over nineteen galleries. The largest gallery measures is 30 meters wide and 130 meters long which famously housed Richard Serra’s monumental installation The Matter of Time in 2005

Hotels near Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao

Here you will find a list, compiled by our expert local guides, with the best hotels you can find near the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao

Restaurants near Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao

Bilbao is one of the best food cities in Spain. Basque cuisine uses some of the best techniques and sensibilities French and Spanish cooking and melts them together creating their own delicious style. Here you will find some of our guide’s favorite restaurants near the Guggenheim Museum: 

Where is Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao? 

The Museum is located where the city’s old port was once located. The Museum was built in an effort to refurbish this area of the city that had become dilapidated over the years. 

The Museum was placed on the bank of the Nervión river which runs through the center of Bilbao. 

The Museum is near the cities financial district and the Doña Casilda Park. 

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao puppy

The Guggenheim puppy is a massive 12-meter-tall dog, covered with 70,000 flowers, that guards one of the entrances to the Museum. This vibrant living sculpture was created by Jeff Koons, the ultra-famous sculptor behind such works as the Seated Balerina, Baloon Dog and Tulips which is also located just outside of the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao.

Things to do near the Guggenheim

Plaza de Santiago

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