Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain

Álvaro Líbano and Ricardo Beascoa
Luis Uriarte with Borja Arana, José Ramón Foraster and Borja Pagazaurtundua
Date Built
Opened in its present form in 2001
Museo Plaza, 48009
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has expanded over the years and encompasses buildings of various generations.  The museum's website explains how it has changed.  "The present Bilbao Fine Arts Museum ... opened in 1945. ..... This first building, however, soon proved insufficient, which was why, at the beginning of the '60's, it was decided to commission architects Álvaro Líbano and Ricardo Beascoa with a new innovative project inspired and influenced by the Modern Movement, specifically by the architecture of Mies van der Rohe. Work concluded in 1970, although ten years later, new spaces and services were included in the basement of the building under the direction of Jorge de Barandiarán. ....  In 1996, Director Miguel Zugaza invited tenders for a Plan to reform and expand the museum with the aim of bringing the museum's installations and services up-to-date. A jury comprising architects Rafael Moneo, Norman Foster and Álvara Lïbano, amongst others, was drawn up that same year in order to evaluate the nineteen projects that had been submitted for consideration. After examining the submitted projects, the team of architects lead by Luis Uriarte and made up of Borja Arana, José Ramón Foraster and Borja Pagazaurtundua was charged with building the winning project."

"The idea of the new Plan was to improve both the horizontal and vertical communication between the two buildings comprising the museum by incorporating a new communication nexus and exhibition gallery into the old building. It also intended to make use of a series of previously unused areas in order to group together and optimise those services the museum offered to visitors (reception area, cafeteria, restaurant, gift and book shop, library, teaching department and auditorium), as well as enlarging exhibition spaces. Likewise, it was pondered whether to relocate the main entrance to the museum and place the new entrance in the main thoroughfare linking the city centre with Abandoibarra. Lastly, the new Distribution Plan recommended the renovation and relocation of the museum's offices in addition to air-conditioning the old building. The sum of all these improvements resulted in the museum gaining an additional 6,450 m2 in surface area while work was carried out on another 14,250 m2. The total investment amounted to some 15 million Euros which was financed by those institutions that make up part of the museum, namely the Basque Government, the County Council of Biscay and the Bilbao City Council. After all the expansion and renovation work had been completed, the museum re-opened its doors on the 10th of November, 2001."