ONLY a select few buildings stand out as icons of the cities that raised them. 

The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and Big Ben all serve as international symbols of their communities and countries, providing an instant shorthand for residents and holidaymakers alike. .

And 25 years ago,  a gleaming metallic structure with graceful curves and tinted glass in Bilbao joined this illustrious company. 

The shimmering Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao wil mark a quarter of a century since it opened this year – and there is plenty to be celebrating. 

An average of a million people have walked through the museum doors each year since its opening, and thousands more have no doubt stood outside and stared wide eyed at the spectacular building. . 

Frank Gehry’s shiny, curvy Guggenheim museum is a masterpiece that manages to stand out, even in a city full of architectural wonders. 

Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao
Bilbao: The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The building is one of the most famous works by the architect Frank Gehry. The museum, which cost around 140 million euros at the time, was opened in 1997. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/ Cordon Press

From the Norman Foster – designed Metro stations to the wacky wine warehouse Azkuna Zentroa, reimagined by Philippe Starck, the city of Bilbao in the north of Spain has been grabbing the globe’s attention for years with its commercial and creative flair. 

The stunning museum, which has hosted everything from exhibitions on Armani fashion to the art of motorbikes, will celebrate turning 25 in October. 

To mark the occasion, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao have launched an anniversary campaign “Art Inspires Future,” as well as a special edition of its logo, which it will use throughout this year, in which the characteristic G’s of the Guggenheim brand move like gears to shape the number 25.

The art of the Guggenheim certainly has inspired the future: when Gehry built the spectacular fish-scaled museum for less than $100 million, it  paid for itself within a year and spearheaded an economic, social and cultural revival of the Basque region. 

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Spain
General View of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain Photo: Cordon Press

A spokesperson for the museum said: “Some 25 years ago the museum was an enormous boost to the cultural, economic, social, and artistic life of the city and its surroundings. 

“Over these years, the Museum has garnered success and a degree of international renown which have remained steady over time.” 

After years blighted by terrorist violence in the nineties, the Basque region, which is now one of the most popular destinations in Spain. 

The museum bosses say the museum is ready to face a new set of challenges once again. 

They wrote: “In a very different context than some years ago, and after the necessary reflection sparked by the pandemic, the Museum is enthusiastically tackling future challenges with realistic optimism. 

“The uncertainty and limitations experienced because of the health crisis have served as an incentive to seize new opportunities which require flexibility, proactiveness, and the use of technology to continue disseminating art and serving as inspiration, and to continue being a driving force for the region, just as happened a quarter of a century ago during a severe economic crisis, when the Museum clearly saw that inspiring confidence and helping to reactivate its environs was part of its mission.” 

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