My Take on the Guggenheim


The famous Guggenheim.

When my parents visited me during my year abroad in Spain, we spent two nights in San Sebastian and then stopped briefly in Bilbao to see the Guggenheim. This seems to be the itinerary of most tourists who pass through Basque Country. Not being a huge museum fan, I opted to walk around the city for 3 hours instead of enter the massive Gehry building, which turned out to be a good plan, as it was that time wandering through the streets of Bilbao that made me realize it was a city I should come back to.

Flash-forward a year and a half later, and I’m living in Bilbao, still never having entered the museum. The number-one tourist attraction in the region just didn’t hold much appeal for me on the inside, even though I knew I’d have to see it sooner or later. And then. . . . I won the lottery!

One Friday night per month, the Guggenheim stays open late and converts into a sort of club. There is a big bar, a DJ, party lights, and some of the exhibits stay open. The event is called Art After Dark, and it’s a great way to kill two birds with one stone–have a fun night out, and see the inside of the museum. Plus, the added bonus for philistines like me is that art may seem more interesting after a few glasses of wine.

Each month they raffle off 20 free tickets (you just have to enter your email), and yours truly won her first lottery ever, from the institution she so long resisted. But my friend Taylor and I took advantage of the Free Entry + Guest to culture ourselves up on a Friday night. Also, the museum had just changed exhibitions, and this one by Antoni Tapies (“From Object to Sculpture”) was supposed to be “really unique.”

Curse modern art.

The main exhibit was a replica of my sophomore-year house: A pile of plates stacked at least 20 high; a wooden chair heaped with clothes; a rusty bathtub that could use a good dose of Ajax. There were some other questionable installations that I didn’t care to examine. Thank God it was free.

guggenheim plates

Docent: “Please don’t take pictures of the art.” Me: “I’m not, I’m taking one of a stack of plates.”

Despite the disappointing exhibit, Taylor and I managed to have a great time. Art After Dark is a really fun experience, especially if you’re looking for something a bit more “posh” than your typical Spanish bar littered with olive pits and crumpled napkins. I highly recommend the event to anyone living or traveling in Bilbao (if you happen to be passing through the city on the right Friday). The inside of the building is as beautiful as one would imagine. Just don’t hit up the bar too hard as a coping mechanism after seeing some of the most disappointing art since your college dorm room.

Art After Dark

Taylor and me at Art After Dark