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The Breathtaking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Al Fresco SpainBy Sunday World
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Towering majestically over the Bilbao sky line, sits a piece of modern day architecture like no other.

With an outer skin of over 33,000 treated titanium sheets, giving the building a scale like sheen and a structure of glass and sandstone; it is no wonder that since opening the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has attracted over 10 million people.

Designed by American architect Frank Gehry, the image of the building is greatly influenced by the surrounding city and culture.  The Basque city of Bilbao is the fourth largest city in Spain.  Sat on the Bay of Biscay, the city is home to one of the most important ports in the country.  It is this idea of sailing and the sea that we see reflected in Gehry’s design.  Like the scales of a fish, the titanium outer plates transform, changing colour and texture as the day passes and weather shifts. The sweeping curves and angles of the outer walls can be seen to be inspired by the sails of a ship or waves of the sea.  The addition of the natural materials, glass and sandstone, and the waters edge at such close proximity; gives this building an unmistakable connection to this historical port city.

The architectural vision does not stop once through the large glass doors of the Guggenheim.  Inside the atrium (heart) of the museum there are glass walls, so one can look out onto the city on both sides of the building, bringing the identity of the city into the museum.  The sandstone walls are forever curving, never flat and the outside titanium creeps in around the edges, creating a limitless gallery of indoors and outdoors alike.

The art within the walls are a collaboration of permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.  The work of Richard Serra, titled ‘The Matter of Time’, a large scale installation that allows interaction from visitors, is one of the permanent fixtures in the museum.  His large obnoxious structures made from weathered steel are created to be moved around in a choreographered fashion, with the idea that once completed, the subject is off centre, disorientated and their space of time has altered.

The collections are not limited to the inside space of the gallery alone.  Out side, with the backdrop of the Guggenheim walls, are installations such as ‘Fog Sculpture’ and ‘Fire Fountain’ which are shown several times a day.  Sat next to these is the sinister and nightmarish ‘Maman’ a giant abstract spider made from bronze, marble and stainless steel.  Standing guard the front of the museum, contrasting with the titanium and glass is the creation ‘Puppy’.  This enormous yet adorable puppy made of bedding flowers is best to see in peak season when fully in bloom.

The Guggenheim museum is a ‘must see’ for any Al Fresco customers visiting the Aquitaine region of France next summer.  With adult entrance tickets only 11 euros and children allowed in free, the picturesque car drive is definitely worth it.  La Sylvamer campsite is just over 1 hour and a half away and Le Vieux Port a little further at 2 hours.

If you love culture, art galleries or just want to experience one of the most impressive architectural miracles of the 21st century; the initial impression of the Guggenheim museum, as it materialises into sight, will stay with you for ever.

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