There are at least two museums in this city that we must see: one is the Guggenheim museum, of which we are not going to tell you anything about now, because we have already done it in another of our audio guides. The other one is the Museum of Fine Arts, which is right beside Doña Casilda Park.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, in Bilbao, there was a wealthy and prosperous bourgeoisie that was eager to catch up with the most cultural and cosmopolitan European capitals. With that spirit, the Museum of Fine Arts was founded, which began operating in 1914.
Ten years later, in 1924, the collective fascination for everything that was or seemed modern was still very much alive, and the artistic world, with all its styles, the Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism and other avant-garde movements, did not stop inventing more things and turning everything upside down. So, a second museum was opened, the Modern Art Museum, dedicated to the most innovative creations.
There was then two different museums, which were going to be united in "marriage" back in 1945 when a Neoclassical building was built to house the collections of both. The work was a project by Fernando Urrutia and Gonzalo Cárdenas, and you can recognise it in the oldest part of the construction in front of you, with its brick and stone chains.
But the building was becoming smaller over the years, and in the sixties, the decision to give a little more space to the artworks was taken seriously. The extension, completed in 1970, was inspired by the lines and materials used by the Bauhaus. In a way, it made the container and its content coordinate better: the union of the classic with the modern, which was present in the interior a long time before, now was also visible on the outside.
It is well worth it to take a walk around the building to take it all in. But do not leave without entering the museum, because you will miss an impressive collection of ten thousand pieces, ranging from Etruscan bronzes to works by Sorolla, Gauguin or Saura, and it covers centuries of wonders between Gothic and Pop Art.
And of course, when you come back out, please do stand in front of the monument dedicated to Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, and look at the Muse that holds the lyre. If she is still naked, it means that everything is going well and that the prudish people who, in the 1940s, demanded and managed to dress her, have not come back.