14 March 2008

Guggenheim Bilbao

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Even for an art museum, location is key. The industrial city of Bilbao was an unlikely place to locate an international art museum and architestural landmark, but in retrospect it was a very forward-looking decision. What makes the Guggenheim in Bilbao so inviting is not so much what is inside as the building itself and the grounds that surround it. It was given a prominent place alongside the river at one end of the city center, where one of the main entrypoints to the city passes right over a portion of the building and a popular walking and jogging path runs alongside. People stop and look, even those who pass by every day. Then suddenly, standing on the pedestrian bridge over the reflecting pool in back of the building, a steamy fog spills out from under the bridge, creating an ethereal covering over the pool. It’s either an art installation of some kind or a building maintenance procedure. I had to go inside and ask at the information desk to get an answer.

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