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Guggemheim Museum

Bilbao, Bizkaia

There are a lot things we could tell you about the Guggenheim Museum, many of which you may already know. Such as, for example, that since 1997, when the famous architect Frank Gehry finally finished work on his design for this spectacular Modern Art museum, it has been without doubt the city's principal attraction. We could also tell you about how it is built from titanium and that its twisted form is not just the result of a whimsical characteristic of all Gehry's designs, but intended to recall how Bilbao made its fortune thanks to the sea and the boats that shipped goods along the river to and from the site where the museum now stands proudly. 

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There are a lot things we could tell you about the Guggenheim Museum, many of which you may already know. Such as, for example, that since 1997, when the famous architect Frank Gehry finally finished work on his design for this spectacular Modern Art museum, it has been without doubt the city's principal attraction. We could also tell you about how it is built from titanium and that its twisted form is not just the result of a whimsical characteristic of all Gehry's designs, but intended to recall how Bilbao made its fortune thanks to the sea and the boats that shipped goods along the river to and from the site where the museum now stands proudly. 

But there is also a lesser-known fact we could tell you. For example, that the building before you is closely linked to the fascinating life of one woman: Peggy Guggenheim, who gave her name to this as well as the other Guggenheim museums that are scattered around this wide world in various and equally privileged locations.

Peggy was born into a wealthy New York family during the “Belle Epoque” era. After her father died in the sinking of the “Titanic”, she inherited a large fortune and acquired a taste for art collection, becoming, as she acknowledged in her own memoirs, something of an addict. She had a particular taste for modern art, surrealism and works by cubist artists like Picasso, whom she also helped out financially, by purchasing their art and promoting it in galleries and museums which she had paid for out of her own money.

In the twenty years between 1921 and 1941, Peggy acquired an enormous collection which, incidentally, had to be speedily shipped out of Paris once the Nazis invaded the French capital.

From there, Peggy returned to her native New York. However, her close call with Hitler's army did nothing to extinguish her love for either art or Europe...

After a long life dedicated to the promotion of Modern Art, Peggy's legacy was to ensure that such works would become known and respected in some of the most thriving, cultural and progressive cities in the world. For this reason, there are now Guggenheim Museums in New York, Italy, Abu Dhabi as well as the one you see before you in all its titanic splendour, so resonant of a city like Bilbao. So much so, that even James Bond himself used the museum as a location for one of his spectacular stunts, seen in The World Is Not Enough starring Pierce Brosnan.

Standing 12 metres (36 feet) tall, “Puppy” the giant floral Yorkshire Terrier installed by the artist Jeff Koons for the Museum's inauguration, and who has subsequently been adopted as the city's permanent mascot, keeps a silent watch on passers-by. But don't sweat, he neither barks nor bites!


Guggemheim Museum

Avenida Abandoibarra, 2
48009 Bilbao
(+34) 944 35 90 00

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Tags: Museum

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