The construction site of The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
The Guggenheim Museum–Bilbao, in northern Spain, opened in the fall of 1997. On May 31, 1997, prior to the museum’s opening, the Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony honoring Sverre Fehn was held there in the great central atrium space. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, it has been hailed as one of the most important museum buildings of the twentieth century. Sited along the Nervion River, the sculptural building was a key element in the architectural and urban regeneration of the city. The exterior is clad in titanium panels that reflect the varying conditions of natural night. The hues and luminosity of the building’s finish appears to change throughout the day and night. While the Guggenheim-Bilbao contains all the necessary elements of a museum—galleries, temporary exhibition space, visitor services and administration, the richness of spaces is unparalleled. The galleries are organized around a vertical atrium that rises more than 150 feet high and bathed in light from its many windows. Three levels of galleries connect to the atrium with catwalks and vertical circulation, further animating the space as visitors flow in and out of the galleries.