We flew into Bilbao with no real idea of what to expect. All we knew was that we had a hire car to collect on the edge of the city. The weather was fine, and our hotel room not available until the afternoon, so we decided to visit the Guggenheim.
Our first sight of the art museum was from the bridge as we entered the city. The museum’s titanium bulk rose up beside us but we had no view of the whole. That we saw for the first time after parking the car, and even then we could see only what our approach would allow, much of our view taken up by a giant, plant covered puppy, designed by Jeff Koons.
The sun was bright. The day was hot. We were tired. Rather than go into the museum to stare in a daze at works of art, we decided to walk around the outside, recrossing the bridge to get a view of the building from the far side of the Nervion River.
It was like unwrapping a parcel, one layer at a time. With every step the museum seemed to unfurl another sinew, its shape changing from crumpled paper, to majestic ship depending on the shadows and our bearings.
Our route, back over the river by another bridge, wound us around to the main entrance where we could not resist touching the scales of the giant. As we gently stroked one flank, a young man ran over to do the same, his excitement so great that sparks seemed to fly from his fingers as he touched it. He was a student of architecture, over from Peru, and beaming at just being there.
Here is a link to an article that tells you more about the museum, which turned 25 a few weeks after our visit.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023