This Is Not a Museum: The Guggenheim Musuem Bilbao

By Nancy Faires.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

My virtual presentation investigates the changing urban landscape of the greater metropolitan area of the city of Bilbao in the province of Biscay in the autonomous community of the Basque Country of northwestern Spain using the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as the focal point. An examination of the following components assists in the analysis of the confluence of particular events and the phenomenon of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao: the architecture of the Los Angeles-based architect Frank Gehry; the economic dynamic of a postindustrial area in decline and the plan to revitalize it; and the new concept of the museum that participates in the encompassing notion of consumerism, the media, and globalization. Efforts by public entities such as the Basque Autonomous Government, the Provincial Council of Biscay, and the City Hall of Bilbao, together with semi-public and private entities such as Bilbao Metrópoli-30 and Bilbao Ría 2000 as well as other organizations constituted the driving force behind the implementation of projects intended to revitalize Bilbao. This was the realization of a marriage of convenience between Bilbao officials and Thomas Krens, who was then the Director of the North American-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in search of establishing a European satellite. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao became an emblem of the city of Bilbao and a commercial and iconic model for international project development. Gehry’s spectacular architecture drove the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s resounding success. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao appeared in international references as the instrument of an urban and economic revitalization inasmuch as it became an innovative museum model.

Keywords: Urban Landscape, Postindustrial, Revitalization, Bilbao, Basque Country, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Thomas Krens, Frank Gehry, Architecture, Consumerism, Media, Globalization

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.113-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 576.511KB).

Dr. Nancy Faires

Professor and Coordinator, Department of Humanities, Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, Nevada, USA

I have worked in the Museum of Holography in New York City and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Recently, I received my doctorate in Basque Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno.


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