Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
The Spanish city of Bilbao, the center of the troubled Basque Country, is located on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. For a long time he was famous for his numerous cathedrals and churches, museums and art galleries. But in recent years, the city was decorated with a new attraction, which brought him truly world fame – the Guggenheim Museum. Thousands of tourists from all over the world cross the continents and oceans to take a look at this masterpiece of modern architecture and get acquainted with the richest collection stored within its walls.
This unique building, clad in glass and sparkling in the sun titanium sheets, is located in the center of the city, on the banks of the Nervion River. It covers an area of 32 500 square meters. m and lies 16 m below the level of other urban buildings. The amazing futuristic silhouette of the museum gives rise to different associations among different people: one building resembles a huge fantastic fish, another is a sailboat, the third is a train crash. The building is compared with a spaceship, a portal crane, a drawbridge, an exotic flower … But none of these associations is able to convey the true impression of the building, which even recognized specialists call “the greatest structure of modernity”, “Chart of the 20th Century”, “the most fantastic building peace “.
For a long time the master worked on commercial orders. But as his artistic preferences developed, he began to create his own world of architectural forms. By the early 1980’s. Gehry moved away from private practice and engaged in conceptual development. In his work a special, deconstructive aesthetics was manifested, in which specialists see a reflection of the growing disunity of culture. In 1990, Gehry received the Pritzer Prize, and nine years later – the Gold Medal of the American Architectural Institute. The peak of Frank Gehry’s creativity was the project of the building of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
The decision to create a new cultural center in Bilbao was made in the late 1980s, when the city development program was being developed. In 1991, the city authorities appealed to the International Guggenheim Foundation with a proposal to build a museum in Bilbao. At the same time, a cooperation agreement was signed providing for the establishment of a regional branch of the Guggenheim Foundation in Bilbao. The city authorities took upon themselves the decision of land issues and investment of the project, and also guaranteed the museum annual financial subsidies.
Frank Gehry designed his amazing building with a computer. The idea of the architect was to “bring” the city to the doors of the museum. The whole ensemble in combination with the river and water-filled reservoirs looks like a giant sculpture, which stands out against the background of urban buildings. Water like a protective ditch encircles the building, adding an additional layer of perception. A high – 50 m in height – the glass volume of the central atrium serves as a fulcrum for the surrounding galleries, like a stalk from which the shoots come off.
Broad, flying steps descend down to the museum lobby. This method allows you to level the difference in altitude between the city center and the river level. Large, curtain-like glass panels provide museum halls with light and at the same time make the building almost transparent. Being in its walls, you experience an incredible feeling of light and space.
The building of the museum adjoins the bridge Puente de la Sap-ve – the main transport artery of Bilbao. Attention of the spectator, going from the airport to the city, immediately captures the asymmetric tall tower rising above the river, shining with golden light. The tower visually unites the bridge with the museum complex. This device corresponds to the idea of Gehry – to include its bizarre construction in the cultural and visual fabric of Bilbao. This goal was successfully achieved.
Composed of a group of freely growing volumes, the museum building is clad in thin, like cigarette paper, sparkling sheets of titanium, a warm shade of limestone and glass. Rectangular limestone blocks contrast with irregular, curved shapes of steel, titanium-coated structures. Visitors to the museum are literally stunned by this crazy combination of geometric figures of titanium and stone outside and a central atrium made of glass and steel inside. And the exposition of the museum, where the canvases of Pablo Picasso are kept. Jean Miro, Vasily Kandinsky, fully corresponds to the avant-garde appearance of the building.
After the creation of the Guggenheim Museum, the capital of the Basque Country became a major cultural center, known far beyond Spain. Over the past few years, the city was visited by more than 4 million tourists to admire the masterpiece of Frank Gehry. 100 million dollars invested in the construction of the “museum quarter” have already paid off handsomely. And today the authorities of New York, inspired by the success of Bilbao, are building a new building of the Guggenheim Museum, which. as it is believed, will largely become a replica of the masterpiece of Frank Gehry.