Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (SPAIN)

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, built by Ferrovial, and located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. 

It is built alongside the Nervion River, which runs through the city of Bilbao to the Atlantic Coast. The Guggenheim is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists. One of the most admired works of contemporary architecture, the building has been hailed as a "signal moment in the architectural culture", because it represents "one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all completely united about something." 

The museum was the building most frequently named as one of the most important works completed since 1980 in the 2010 World Architecture Survey among architecture experts. In 1991, the Basque government suggested to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation that it would fund a Guggenheim museum to be built in Bilbao's decrepit port area, once the city's main source of income.The Basque government agreed to cover the US$100 million construction cost, to create a US$50 million acquisitions fund, to pay a one-time US$20 million fee to the Guggenheim and to subsidize the museum's US$12 million annual budget. In exchange, the Foundation agreed to manage the institution, rotate parts of its permanent collection through the Bilbao museum and organize temporary exhibitions. 

The museum was eventually built at a cost of US$89 million. About 5,000 residents of Bilbao attended a preopening extravaganza outside the museum on the night preceding the official opening, featuring an outdoor light show and concerts. On October 18, 1997, the museum was opened by Juan Carlos I of Spain. The museum was opened as part of a revitalization effort for the city of Bilbao. Almost immediately after its opening, the Guggenheim Bilbao became a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the globe. In its first three years, almost 4 million tourists visited the museum, helping to generate about €500 million in economic activity. 

The regional council estimated that the money visitors spent on hotels, restaurants, shops and transport allowed it to collect €100 million in taxes, which more than paid for the building cost.The so-called "Guggenheim effect" refers to how the museum transformed the city. The term, however, has also been employed by critics who have denounced the museum as a symbol of gentrification and cultural imperialism. The Wall Street Journal suggested that the Bilbao effect should be called the Bilbao anomaly, "for the iconic chemistry between the design of building, its image and the public turns out to be rather rare." According to a report issued in 2007 by the Basque Court of Auditors, the museum paid more than US$27 million for the acquisition of art between 2002 and 2005, including Serra's 'The Matter of Time' for the cavernous ground-floor gallery. 

After another audit in 2008 revealed that money was missing from accounts, the Foundation said that it filed a case against the director, Roberto Cearsolo Barrenetxea, "for financial and accounting irregularities", asserting that he had admitted diverting money from two companies that manage the Guggenheim Bilbao building and its art collection to his own account since 1998.