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Curiosities you didn't know about the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Curiosities you didn't know about the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Jeickson Sulbaran

January 18, 2024 | 9:38 a.m.

In the heart of Bilbao, stands one of the most iconic and debated structures of modern art, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao. Since its inauguration, it has been a turning point in the world of art and architecture, attracting global attention not only for its collection, but also for its stunning design. This museum is not just a place to admire art, but a work of art in itself, a fusion of creativity and technology that has marked a before and after in the cultural history of Bizkaia.

Frank Gehry: The visionary behind the design

El Canadian architect Frank Gehry was the brain behind this architectural marvel. What began as sketches on a napkin became a reality through the use of CATIA, a revolutionary computer program. This tool made it possible to digitize their models and give life to a design that challenges architectural conventions. The building, with its undulating shapes and innovative materials, not only changed the landscape of Bilbao but also catapulted Gehry to international stardom.

El Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was inaugurated on October 18, 1997 by King Juan Carlos I, in a complex political and social context. Hours before the inauguration, a terrorist attack sought to tarnish this cultural milestone. However, the museum emerged as a symbol of resilience and renewal for the city and the Basque Country.

Divided opinions and the cultural impact of the Guggenheim museum

Things you didn't know about the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The reception of the building has been mixed. While figures such as Philip Johnson have praised it as a masterpiece of our time, the Spanish sculptor Jorge Oteiza harshly criticized it, going so far as to call it "Cheese Factory." These mixed opinions reflect the Guggenheim Bilbao's ability to provoke dialogue in the art world and beyond.

The museum's success redefined Gehry's career. After the Guggenheim, many cities wanted their own "Gehry building", which led the architect to carry out emblematic projects around the world. These include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris.

The museum is part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, founded in 1937, which is dedicated to promoting modern art. The Guggenheim network includes several venues, each recognized for its architectural quality. In Bilbao, the museum exhibits important works of contemporary art, both local and international, and has hosted highly renowned temporary exhibitions.

Dan Brown, in his novel "Inception", chose the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as the main setting, highlighting its importance and uniqueness in contemporary culture. With around a million visitors a year, the museum remains a key cultural destination. On its 20th anniversary, celebrated with a light and sound show on its façade, called "Reflections", which has captivated more than 300 thousand people.

El Guggenheim Bilbao is not just a museum, is an emblem of Bilbao and a meeting point between the city's industrial past and its vibrant and cultural present. This building, with its revolutionary design and impressive art collection, remains a beacon of inspiration and proof of the transformative power of art and architecture.

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