Guggenheim Museum Bilbao expanded for 40 million euros

by Lorraine Williamson
Guggenheim museum number 2

BILBAO – The iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao will soon have a sister. There are plans to build a second Guggenheim museum in the Urdaibai region, also a UNESCO biosphere reserve, in the northern Spanish Basque Country. 

The central government approved the allocation of €40 million to the Guggenheim Museum project in Urdaibai at the meeting of the Council of Ministers. The project, supported by European funds, involves the construction of two new buildings in the towns of Gernika and Murueta, which are only 5 kilometres apart. This area is a Unesco biosphere reserve and includes attractions such as the ‘Bosque de Oma’, the popular surfing mecca Mundaka and the caves of Santimamiñe. 

New building in Gernika 

The plan is to renovate the former building of the Dalia cutlery factory in Gernika and extend it with a new building, bringing the total area of the ‘Guggenheim-2’ to 18,000 square metres. 

New building in Mutueta 

In nearby Murueta, an old shipyard will be used for the construction of the second building of the future museum. A 5-kilometre-long nature trail connects both locations and completes the project. 

Different interpretation for new location than main museum 

In terms of museum content, the new location will have a different profile than Frank Ghery’s main museum in Bilbao. The Guggenheim Urdaibai will focus on research and art production projects, with an emphasis on the technological and environmental aspects of art. It is also seen as a centre that welcomes artists and experts for research stays. The museum is expected to attract approximately 140,000 visitors annually, with visitor numbers carefully regulated to ensure environmental protection. The museum is expected to be open for only a few months each year. 

Cogesa Expats


In addition to the €40 million in European funds, the provincial government of Bizkaia (Biscay) has already budgeted €40 million for this project. In addition, the financing of the Basque government has yet to be determined, with this government always reluctant to accelerate this plan. The original budget for this project, prepared by a New York studio, was estimated at €128 million. 

The government of Urkullu, another key agency for the Guggenheim Museum, has stated that it will fulfil its environmental and transportation responsibilities. 

More about Urdaibai 

Urdaibai has a beautiful landscape. The area consists of a mix of cliffs, extensive beaches, estuaries, wetlands, forests and green hills. It is a nature lover’s paradise and attracts bird watchers from all over the world due to its abundant bird population. Urdaibai’s wetlands, such as the famous Urdaibai Bird Centre, provide a haven for numerous migratory birds and endemic species. 

In addition to the historic town of Gernika, you will also find the Bosque de Oma in Urdaibai. This work of art, which is temporarily closed, was created in nature is by artist Agustín Ibarrola. He painted the trunks of the forest with colourful patterns, creating a fascinating landscape. In addition, Mundaka, a picturesque fishing village on the coast of Urdaibai, is world-famous among surfers for the impressive waves that break there. 


Also read: A weekend in Bilbao, discovering the riches of Basque culture and tradition 

You may also like