Bilbao, the Basque country, northern
Spain. Not so long ago a sleeping port and industrial town, allegedly
with little charm. But the mayor and the citizens had visions - and
put them to work. Many couldn't believe their ears when they heard that
the new Guggenheim
Museum would be built in their
town, partly under a bridge. And there it is, beyond doubt one of the
most amazing buildings in the world. Says TFF co-founder Christina Spannar,
upon visiting it:
"The memory of the museum, especially
seen from the hill in moonlight when it looks like a silvery boat
from a fairy tale, is something to cherish and be inspired by. The
surface is covered by thin titan plates that look a bit like fish
scales. As a small boy, Frank Gehry its architect, often went with
his grandmother to the fish market; upon returning he played with
the carps she let live in her bathtub until they had to be prepared
for dinner. The shiny scales obviously fascinated him - as the building
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao © 2005 Jan Oberg, TFF
Many in Bilbao were upset about the
costly museum project. In the short perspective it seemed like madness.
In the long run it has proved to be fortunate for the once rather
polluted industrial town where the ship-building industry had closed
down and moved eastwards together with other industries on the hunt
for cheap labour.
But destructive globalisation can turn into good things, too. With
the museum and what came with it, the whole town has gone through
a revival. The air is clear and the atmosphere friendly. Fish have
come back to the river and visitors - rather than mass tourism - come
from all over the world.
To me the museum represents vision, creativity and long-term thinking,
necessary for a decent future for our grandchildren and generations
We spent days just walking around it, changing like a jewel depending
on the light, time of the day and the weather. You are not allowed
to take pictures inside the building. I found that very annoying so...took
a few shots in the men's room (and changed them a bit)!
We hope this Series - impressions from
the town in general and the Museum in particular - inspires you to
go to Bilbao.