The Guggenheim Modern Art Museum in Bilbao was my first ‘Frank Gehry’ building.
Our first view of it was when we walked around the building in the evening.
The giant ‘spider’ sculpture lit up at night in front of Gehry’s architectural masterpiece.
The spider was equally gruesome in the next day as it loomed over the pink-shirted runners.
We started by walking around the exterior of this architectural wonder with its metallic swoops and curves.
The building changed depending on the light, with a shimmery sheen under a cloudy sky, and shooting back light flares when the sun hit it. The far side of the museum is quite different from the rest of the metal and glass building. I like the way it echoes and frames the pre-existing building in the background.
The building opposite mirrored and fractured it, something I suspect Gehry might have planned. A gleaming bubble sculpture complements the sheen of Gehry’s design. Another outside sculpture of coloured chrome tulips.Supposedly you weren’t supposed to take photos inside the museum, something everyone ignored judging by the number of cameras going off.
At times the soaring interior was even more breathtaking than the exterior.
Richard Serra’s room-sized sculptures ‘The Matter of Time’ were custom-built for the Guggenheim. They all have some scientific elliptical formations that are disorienting to wander around in. I obeyed the signs that said not to take photos but Al didn’t – here is a model for one of the Serra sculptures.
The museum booklet detailing Serra’s room-sized sculpture, along with a film playing on nine screens in the new space dedicated to the moving image. ‘The Visitors’ by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson was a multi-channel video installation, each screen containing the sounds produced by that particular musician, with the whole room becoming a magical compilation.
Some more thoughts about what to do in Bilbao from Jessica, a friend and longtime resident of the north of Spain: Obviously, in Bilbao you’ll have to visit the Guggenheim. You might be able to find a hotel that includes entrance to the museum in the reservation, because then you don’t have to wait in line to get tickets.
Anyplace you go will have great food and just walking around the old town is fun. There’s a famous ice cream place that has really strange ice cream flavors (like calamari in its ink, bacalao, etc.) alongside the regular chocolate and vanilla, if you’re feeling adventurous.
- More on our October 2014 trip to Northern Spain.
- The AFC Guide to Every Frank Gehry-Designed Museum.