guggenheim bilbao museum: the emblem

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Mr Gehry did not only create a museum, he brought to Bilbao the embryo of architectural revolution as a shining example around the world. Today, Bilbao is no longer home to the Guggenheim, but rather the Guggenheim is at home in Bilbao. The city has got over the fame of the Museum by now and has appropriated all that added value: Bilbao has come of age.


  • G U G G E N H E I M M U S E U M B I L B A O

  • The emblem

    The City Planning Regulations drawn up byBilbao in 1989 foresaw the suitability of buildinga museum in the Abandoibarra area with theaim of it being a cultural emblem for the city.

    In 1991 preparations began leading to theBasque authorities contacting the Solomon R.Guggenheim Foundation to propose that theyparticipate in the revitalisation of the city. Thenon-profit artistic foundation agreed to thesuggestion as it was their intention to establish

    a global network of museums. Bilbao would beone of the designated locations.

    The architect was to be internationallyrenowned: Frank O. GEHRY, who with a bird'seye view, from the top of Mt. Artxanda, pointedto the future the site of the art museum:Abandoibarra, embracing La Salve bridge.Mr GEHRY did not only create a museum, hebrought to Bilbao the embryo of architecturalrevolution as a shining example aroundthe world.

  • In February 1993, Mr GEHRY's presented hisschematic design for the museum and thefoundation stone ceremony was held. In October1994 building work began and, finally, on 19thOctober 1997 the Guggenheim Museum Bilbaoopened its doors.

    Although its importance transcends purelyarchitectural value, it must be said that thebuilding is of an exquisite and innovativeconstruction. Occupying 32,500 m2 of land, thebuilding is on par with the Ibaizabal-NervionRiver, or rather, 16 m. below sea level and thesea level of the City, with the colosal La Salvebridge crossing over one end of the building.


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  • The building is composed of a number ofinterconnected masses, some orthagonaland covered with limestone, while othersare curved, twisted and covered with ametallic skin of titanium. These massesthen combine with the glass wallscontributing the building's transparency,which all so unmistakably identifies theGuggenheim Museum Bilbao. Aninteresting side note is that owing to theirmathematical complexity, the twistingcurvatures of the stone, glass and titaniumwere designed with the assistance of acomputer programme called Catia, whichis also used in jet plane design.

    Today, Bilbao is no longer home to theGuggenheim, but rather the Guggenheimis at home in Bilbao. The city has got overthe fame of the Museum by now and hasappropriated all that added value: Bilbaohas come of age.