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Described as the best building of the second half of the twentieth century, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has completely transformed Bilbao, putting the city on the world map and changing its image. Opened in 1997, it was designed by American architect Frank Gehry, who, after visiting the city, was very clear about its location. "That's the place", he exclaimed after observing a view of Bilbao from Mount Artxanda. That place was the site of the former Compañía de Maderas timber company, on the left bank of the river. As the architect himself explained, the design is based "on the port that it was and the city it is", symbolizing a ship anchored on the banks of the Nervión. The titanium cladding means that you see, at any time of day, the colours that the light projects onto it.
This spectacular building adds to an area where the Nervión makes its marks with pleasant riverside walks. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is surrounded by promenades, parks and recently-built squares, where you can see the work of artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Eduardo Chillida, Yves Klein, Jeff Koons and Fujiko Nakaya.
The area around the museum has become an attractive meeting point to enjoy art, refreshments, live music, sports or to play in a children's play area with avant-garde swings that has an interactive fountain which is a magnet for kids.
Since opening in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao's acquisitions have focused on works from the mid-twentieth century to the present day, thus complementing the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and forging a unique identity at the same time.
Visited by about one million people every year, one of its main attractions is the ArcelorMittal gallery, a large space where eight works by sculptor Richard Serra are permanently displayed.
Of the 24,000 square metres occupied by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 11,000 are reserved for exhibition spaces. The architectural heart of the 20 galleries that make up the museum is the atrium, a large open space of curved volumes, surrounded by large glass curtain walls and crowned by a large skylight.
In addition to exhibition spaces, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has a visitor orientation room, the "Zero Espazioa", an auditorium with 300 seats, a souvenir shop and a bookshop, a cafe, a bistro-style restaurant and the gourmet "Nerua" restaurant that has one Michelin star.Further information: