Everybody talks about the Guggenheim art museum in Bilbao. Designed by Frank Gehry, the same guy who gave us the Experience Music Project (now MoPop) in Seattle, the Guggenheim has garnered accolades for its design.

In its short lifetime, the museum has joined a rarified list of places that folks feel they need to see: the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Tower of London. You get the idea.

So let’s start with a few photos of the exterior. This is easier said than done because the building is big and varied, and it’s hard to get far enough away to get a complete view. Instead, we walked around the whole of it, taking photos of interesting “slices”.

These stairs lead down to the main entrance.

A lot of the building is covered in titanium “fish scales”.

There’s an outdoor art work called “Fog” that fires off periodically.

Art inspires art, I guess. The nearby bridge does its bit.

The spider-like piece is titled “Mother”. Contrary to what you might think, it was a compliment.

So, what’s inside? Well, a lot of art and some restaurants, one with a Michelin star. Let me show you a few things that I particularly liked. You may notice a theme: bright colors and shiny objects attract me. I have this in common with crows.

You walk into, around, through, these pieces. They are intended to make you think about time passing as you do.

This piece is made of liquor bottle tops stitched together. The choice of medium and the message escaped me. I think it has something to do with pollution.

As a fan of color and bling, Jeff Koons is a God to me.

Shiny, but not Koons. This piece is called “Clouds”.

A special exhibit.

I’ll finish with a few things we saw while strolling around the outside of the museum. The Flower Dog is also by Jeff Koons.

So, the Guggenheim. Everyone seems to like it. It’s a cool-looking building for sure, inside and out.

But I don’t think it’s a very good art museum. A lot of the interior is wasted space, there aren’t that many galleries, and the building itself draws attention away from the art.

In my book, the New York Guggenheim by Frank Lloyd-Wright is a better example of genius architecture that serves rather than shouts over its intended use.


  1. Wow! This is the most I’ve seen of the Guggenheim, after hearing pros and cons of it for years!
    Liked the “Fog”–almost like San Francisco! Thanks for including one cute person in a white T-shirt!
    Now I HAVE to go to the MoPop.

  2. We were there last year in October and there was a lot of work being done around the museum. They were working on the dog (fenced off and no flowers :-() and the fog in the front wasn’t operational. You picked a good time to go! Did you see the women pulling the rope statues just down from the museum?

    1. Dog and fog were operational, but the second floor (Picasso) was closed. I noticed the roped women as we passed by on the tram.

  3. Great pictures! As Barry said, last year in October they were doing major outside refurbishment and inside as well, so 2 entire galleries were closed. Having said that, it took us several hours to appreciate what we did see, so I’m not sure I would have had the stamina for 2 more galleries.

    As for Bilbao, we first saw it from the car on the way to our hotel to drop off luggage and then head out to the countryside before ditching the car at the airport and returning to Bilbao proper to explore by foot. It appeared to be featureless concrete hideousness from car level. But you only need to lift your eyes one story to see the far more fascinating architecture above!

    It is a much more “gritty” city than Sevilla or Granada, but its biggest charms to us were the roving singers in traditional berets serenading the streets with Basque folk music (and the odd Elvis tune). I hope you come across them.

    1. We haven’t come across traditional music, but have encountered a couple of “torch” singers doing some pretty steamy music for daylight hours. Also a few good instrumentalists and the phenomenal pan pipe player in the photo above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.