For those of you who may be lucky enough to get to visit the Basque Country sometime, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite places with you.

We’re sure there’s no need to remind you of just how important the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has been in projecting the Basque Country on a global scale, but did you know that there are several other art museums spread across the Basque lands that also offer art lovers of all persuasions magnificent opportunities to indulge their passion?


Artium, Vitoria-Gasteiz. Photo by Zarateman, via Wikimedia Commons

Just a few blocks from the Guggenheim Bilbao is the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which includes among its permanent exhibitions work by El Greco, Goya, Gaugin, and Francis Bacon, as well as key Basque figures like Zuloaga, Chillida, and Oteiza. Meanwhile, Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Autonomous Community, is home to Artium, the Basque Museum-Center of Contemporary Art, with its focus on more contemporary work, often in a variety of different media. Over in Donostia-San Sebastián, the rejuvenated San Telmo Museum (STM) offers an eclectic permanent collection including the Sert Canvasses depicting key aspects of Basque history and culture. In Baiona there is the Bonnat Helleu Fine Arts Museum, which is home to a drawing cabinet that is arguably the best of its kind outside the that of the Louvre in France, including work by, among others, Delacroix, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Goya. Finally, if you’re heading to Nafarroa, check out the Museum of Navarre in Iruñea-Pamplona, and don’t miss out on the Jorge Oteiza Museum-Foundation in Altzuza, which houses the personal collection of the great Basque sculptor.

These are just a few of the many art museums in the Basque Country. If you’re interested in this topic, check out Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim, edited by Anna Maria Guasch and Joseba Zulaika. This is a work that looks at not just the Guggenheim Bilbao (or indeed the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, on which there is also a chapter) but more broadly at the meaning of art museums in the contemporary world: the architects who design them, the artists whose work they exhibit, their franchise dimensions, and their impact as cultural tools in urban regeneration. The book is available free to download here.

The Guggenheim Bilbao is also discussed at length in Joseba Zulaika’s latest book, That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, which, according to bestselling author Mark Kurlansky, “brilliantly sets a new standard for books about cities.” And check out Oteiza’s Selected Writings, edited by Joseba Zulaika, a collection of the renowned sculptor’s thoughts on art and culture.