We visited the Guggeheim our first full day in Bilbao, and although it was a Saturday it wasn’t crowded, perhaps because we arrived mid-morning in March.
Even the entrance to the Guggenheim is unusual; we descended a wide stairway to go inside.
An audio tour is included in the entrance fee which greatly enhanced our experience as we learned about Frank Gehry’s creative process in conceiving this masterpiece.
We adjusted our headsets then sat inside the atrium on the ground floor marveling at the sinuous columns rising up adjacent to glass walls, while listening to how it was designed and constructed. I didn’t feel as though I were inside a building but instead within the heart of something alive.
It was an emotional experience witnessing the manifestation of one man’s vision and I was amazed that such an unusual and sophisticated design would actually be constructed. Obviously it had required an enormous amount of effort and resources but it had been built regardless and I was very appreciative of that while we were there.
It was so beautiful, sensual and divine; an intangible experience that isn’t easily put into words and like many truly remarkable places, it’s difficult to duplicate the experience in photos, although Lauren and I had the time of our lives snapping pictures at every turn.
When we were ready to move on from the atrium I was most interested in continuing to experience the “structure” itself even on the inside, but Lauren steered me to the permanent exhibit on the ground floor she had visited on a previous trip with her school.
At first I just went along but then quickly became engaged with the interactive sculpture “The Matter of Time” by Richard Serra. A large part of the ground floor houses this permanent exhibit which looks as impressive from the overhead view on the second floor as it does while standing in the middle of it. There was a film and a lot of information about this artist (who is from San Francisco), and how he constructed his installation pieces, but I was so keen on exploring the structure of the Guggenheim itself that I was reluctant to spend the time learning about the artist. I somewhat regret not pausing in that particular exhibit to learn more about it while I was there, but if I return to the Guggenheim I will. The Matter of Time is the only permanent exhibit at the Guggenheim in Bilbao and is the largest sculpture commission in history. It is certainly a must-see exhibit!
While inside the museum we encountered so many interesting angles and perspectives that constantly changed as we meandered along the upper floor winding walkways.
Sunlight filtering through the many glass walls and windows enhanced our experience within the building as well as brightened the many interesting views to the outside.
We just couldn’t get enough and were reluctant to leave so we changed our plans, skipping menu del dia at a a recommended restaurant downtown, to eat at the museum cafe, which turned out to be a delight in itself.
The elevated cafe terrace hugs the side of the museum, our table against its titanium wall. It was a gorgeous day, we enjoyed our lunch with a view of the river, basking in the sun while listening to a talented saxophonist perform on the walkway below. It was such a magical experience for me and to share it with my daughter was beyond anything I had imagined. “Today is going to be my favorite day in Spain,” I told Lauren. And I think that even though she had been to the Guggenheim before and was so familiar with Spain, that for her it was a pretty special time too.