The Guggenheim at night. Photo by Tony Hisgett, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
On October 18, 1997, the at the time controversial and now emblematic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was inaugurated.
A lot of our regular readers will no doubt be familiar with the so-called Guggenheim effect in Bilbao. After a controversial start, with many critical voices raised questioning the significant Basque public investment in this flagship project, the museum has had a significant impact in putting Bilbao–and the Basque Country more broadly–on the international map. Much of this is down to architect Frank Gehry’s groundbreaking design of the building itself, which, if you catch the airport bus into Bilbao, comes into view in spectacular fashion as you enter the city proper.
Check out our special post here on the twentieth anniversary celebrations for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Last month the Canadian-born architect who first moved to Los Angeles in 1949 was covered in the news quite extensively. NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post have all featured Gehry and his life’s work in some fashion or another. One of the most mentioned works of architecture is, of course, The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. It was in 1997 that the museum was built in effort to bring an appreciation of culture to the Basque city that had been lying in industrial ruin. This “ship-wreck” was the viewed as a “promise of a new city” as described by Dr. Joseba Zulaika. Gehry’s work and its contribution to Bilbao is a main theme of Prof. Zulaika’s class, “The Bilbao Guggenheim,” in which I’m enrolled this semester. I knew nothing of the back story involved in terms of why and how the building of the Guggenheim came to be, but by reading That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, Prof. Zulaika’s book on the transformation of the city and its people, I am finding out about the struggle and importance of building this museum.
Click on the book link provided above for your own copy, or check out the story from NPR’s Susan Stamberg below:
Frank Gehry’s Lifelong Challenge: To Create Buildings that Move
Here are a few of Frank Gehry’s famous works, with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao at top
Saturday, September 26, witnessed the grand finale of the 50th Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Bilbao. Relive the event here.
Video taken for YouTube
If you want to know more about Bilbao or the Guggenheim Museum, check out That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, Building Time: The Relatus in Frank Gehry’s Architecture, and Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, available free to download here. In relation to the event itself, see also Playing Fields: Power, Practice, and Passion in Sport.
The great architect Frank Gehry, whose Guggenheim Bilbao Museum became the landmark building of the turn of the century and turned Bilbao into the worldwide paradigm of a city recreated by architecture, has designed a second work for the city: a bridge connecting Zorrotzaurre with Deusto that will be named after him: “Gehry Zubia” (literally, Gehry Bridge). Gehry has never shied away from expressing his “love” for the city that made him internationally renowned as the master artist and a household name. The bridge was opened to pedestrians at its official inauguration yesterday, September 14 (with traffic access scheduled for next year, upon completion of work on the Deusto Canal). For more information on the inauguration, click here.
Aerial shot of the Deusto Canal (2010), with the future islet of Zorrotzaurre in the center, by Fernandopascullo, via Wikimedia Commons
Recently Joseba Zulaika published his ethnography/memoir about Bilbao entitled That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, in which he discusses at length the impact of Gehry’s masterpiece on the city and turns such a glorious “shipwreck” (as Gehry described it) into the emblem of his generation.