With more than 160 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and over 20 million visitors from all over the world, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao celebrates its twentieth anniversary and continues to be a fundamental stimulus for tourism and art in the region.
Twenty years ago, on 19th October 1997, the famous museum designed by architect Frank Gehry was opened to the public and we can say that nothing was the same again. A building that symbolised Gehry’s love for the deconstructivist trend, the Guggenheim in Bilbao immediately became a break with tradition. Widely praised, architect Philip Johnson described it as one of the greatest works in the modern world, comparing the emotion felt when visiting it to that felt at the Cathedral of Chartres. However, it was also strongly criticised, for that very same sculptural shape and for the high building and maintenance costs linked to the experimental nature of some of the techniques and materials, like the titanium that covered the exterior.
Today, one talks of the “ Guggenheim effect” or the “ Bilbao effect” to indicate the profound cultural and economic renaissance of an ex-industrial city that, thanks to specific, high-quality infrastructure and architectural projects, has become an important tourist destination.
Exhibitions, installations and special events are planned for the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, including “Reflections” created by 59 Productions, which has transformed the museum’s titanium exterior into an audio-visual performance, a celebration of lights and colours free and visible to everyone.
Architect: Frank Gehry
Location: Bilbao, Spain
Images courtesy of Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao www.guggenheim.org