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[ 2021-09-09 ]

The Contracting period for Phase I construction is open: partial preparation for the expansion and refurbishment of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which will begin in the old building in November


[ 21/06/24 ]

  • BBK and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum renew their alliance through the signing of a new collaboration agreement that establishes the strategic lines of action for the next fifteen years under the BBK Museoa identity.
  • The joint action between BBK and the museum will take place in the new BBK Museoa space designed by Norman Foster and Luis María Uriarte within the "Agravitas" project for the renovation and extension of the museum, which will begin this year.
  • The agreement lays the foundations to guarantee the financial self-sufficiency of the BBK Museoa programme, which will include the organisation of two major annual exhibitions.


The signing of this agreement renews the cultural positioning and establishes a new milestone in the five decades of collaboration between BBK and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

An alliance that began at the end of the seventies of the last century and was extended in 1994 with the creation of the BBK Room. It received its decisive backing in 2001 when BBK joined the museum as Patron of Honor and member of its Executive Committee together with the three founding institutions (Bilbao City Council, Bizkaia Provincial Council and the Basque Government). It was in that year—in which, in addition, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Foundation was incorporated—when the BBK Museum Programme was established, which over the course of this time has provided cover for the joint action framework.

Throughout these years the development of general interest activities has materialised in the museum's largest artistic programme supported by a private entity and which backs three main projects—temporary exhibitions, educational activities and outreach—which have played a major role in cultural actions in the territory and their staging in a broader artistic context.

The main goal of the majority of the museum's exhibition programme, which is run precisely thanks to the collaboration with BBK, is to acquaint the public with important artists, periods or episodes in the history of art. The archive includes catalogues as memorable as El bodegón español. De Zurbarán a Picasso [Spanish still life. From Zurbarán to Picasso] (1999) and Antonio López (2011). It also aims to contribute to research, as in the case of Obras maestras de la Colección Valdés [Masterpieces of the Valdés Collection] (2020), and to showcase the museum's own collection, as in the exhibitions 110 Years 110 Works (2018) and ABC. The alphabet of the Bilbao Museum. In this respect, BBK has also contributed to the enrichment of the collection through various formulas, one of the most recent examples of which has been the sponsorship of the purchase, in 2017 by the Friends of the Museum, of the splendid View of Bermeo (1783) by the painter Luis Paret.

Attention to Basque cultural identity and its creative community is one of the core areas of interest in the synergies between BBK and the museum, and ranges from classical artists—from Zamacois to Zuloaga—to the twentieth century, with Basterretxea, Mendiburu and Ameztoy, to mention just three prominent names. The same purpose has guided, since 1982, the BBK-Museum Research Grants.

Educational and mediation work accompanies the temporary exhibitions, offering a wide range of audiences, with diverse interests and needs, workshops, visits, meetings, audio guides, talks and conferences both on site and online. BBK’s exhibitions also generate catalogues and other art publications that occupy most of the museum's editorial work.

But, moreover, this on-site activity at the museum extends beyond its rooms in performances across the city and the region. Noteworthy examples are the travelling exhibition BBK Artearen Ibilbidea / La Ruta del Arte [Art Route] which, since 2018, has toured different towns in Bizkaia, and the current exhibition Paret in Bilbao.

BBK's contribution to the museum's prestige and its ongoing mentoring in different stages of its history have been essential to be able to face future challenges with confidence.

A strategic future: BBK Museoa


BBK Museoa is the new collaboration project between BBK and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Foundation that is a follow-up, after 25 years of joint action, to the activity carried out mainly in the museum's BBK Room.

In 2019, BBK sponsored an international architectural tender for the extension and renovation of the museum. The winning bid was the ‘Agravitas’ project, designed by Norman Foster and Luis María Uriarte and which is scheduled to begin this autumn. One of the most important actions in the project proposes a new space that will bring together in a single museum area, identified with the new BBK Museoa brand, all the exhibition events and educational and outreach activities associated with the joint programme.

Boasting an exhibition area of more than 2,000 square meters, which doubles the current BBK Room, BBK Museoa occupies the main ensemble of the public space of the extension, which is planned on the existing architecture to offer the museum new prominence in the city.

In addition to being a new space, BBK Museoa will be an ambitious art programme targeted at the community closest to the museum and, at the same time, open to an international audience.

It aims to stage two major annual exhibitions that foster, through artistic creation and together with an ambitious programme of educational and outreach activities, reflection on the great challenges facing our society today


[ 20/12/21 ]

Today, in a meeting attended both in-person and virtually by Bingen Zupiria, spokesperson and minister of Culture and Linguistic Policy of the Basque Government, Unai Rementeria, chairman of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and Juan Mari Aburto, mayor of Bilbao, the Museum Board expressed their support for the expansion plan designed by Norman Foster and Luis Mª Uriarte.

In the wake of Bilbao City Council's approval of the Special Plan and presentation of the core project, the final drafting and bidding process of the construction project—commencing in September 2021 in the modern building—is to be set in motion. The extension will allow all the requirements presented in the Strategic Plan to be implemented on the same premises, enabling the museum to expand considerably by over 5,000 m2. The emblematic nature of the project, conservation of both existing architectural features and the natural setting, and greater energy efficiency are the guiding principles behind the project's design. Furthermore, the space around Francisco Durrio's Arriaga monument will become a new public sculpture gallery accessed via the entrances on Euskadi square and Chillida square.

At the same meeting it was also decided that the funding model for the construction work set out in the museum's Strategic Plan would remain unchanged. The model consists of the formalisation of a long-term loan taken out by the Foundation, estimated at 25 million euros, which will be repaid by the three founding institutions: Bilbao City Council, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia and the Basque Government.

The project's editing team has confirmed the good news that the museum will be able to remain partially open during nearly the entirety of the construction project, which is estimated to last 21 months. The expansion project will allow a significant part of the old museum building—the least affected by the construction work—to remain open. It will be accessible via its original entrance, where a provisional ramp will be set up in order to improve access. During this time, the museum's management has set forth a special rotation programme for the collection so that the largest possible number of works remain on view and so as to ensure that the institution's education and dissemination programmes continue. Moreover, according to the construction plans, both the departments and internal services of the museum and the bulk of the non-exhibited collection will be able to remain at the museum throughout the construction process.


Cátedra UNESCO Report: PDF

"Las arquitecturas del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao" - Maite Paliza Monduate: PDF



Norman Foster presents the project for the remodel of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

[ 19/12/16 ]

This morning, in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Norman Foster presented a preview of the draft project for its expansion. In his comments, Foster used one of the art gallery's most iconic works—The Bridge at Burceña by Aurelio Arteta—as a metaphor for an understanding of the past being one of the fundamental bridges for building the future.

The event was attended by Unai Rementeria, the General Deputy for Bizkaia and Chairman of the Museum Board; Bingen Zupiria, the Regional Secretary for Culture and Linguistic Policy of the Basque Government; Juan Mari Aburto, Mayor of the City Council of Bilbao; as well as other representatives from the Board, from the jury of the bid for the expansion architecture and from the museum Corporate Programme, to name but a few.

The road map of this important architectural initiative was determined on 11 December 2018 in the Strategic Plan 2019–2022, approved by the Board with the aim of driving the organisational modernisation and the physical expansion of the institution. Within this new strategic vision, the action with the greatest impact is the expansion of some 8,000 m2 of the museum's operating space, with a budget of €18,658,200 and a completion time of 45 months.

The first step towards achieving this goal was the call for bids for the architecture on 11 February, held thanks to funding by BBK, the honorary patron of the museum. On April 8, the jury selected six finalists out of the 57 teams admitted in the first stage. Finally, on July 23, the bid decision was announced in favour of the project titled 'Agravitas', presented by Foster+Partners + LM Uriarte Arkitektura, and both the winning project and the finalists were on display for the public between July 29 and October 6.

The core idea is to recover the prominence of the 1945 building by restoring its original entrance. A uniquely-sized space is projected on the existing installations that stands respectfully on the 1945 and 1970 buildings, providing the museum with new galleries on one single open-plan, multi-purpose floor. The initiative also transforms the Square containing the monument to Arriaga into the new heart of the museum's hub.

[In its report, the jury summed up the strengths of the project as follows: 'Technological in its image, humanistic in its approach and ecological in its sustainability, the proposal combines architectural quality, urban sensitivity and social responsibility to build a dazzling, subtle milestone in the historic heart of Bilbao'.

As for Unai Rementeria, he highlighted the most significant improvements in the functionality and visibility of the museum on condensing into one single volume the requirement plan, as well as the consideration it shows to visitors and the enormous environmental awareness of a project at the service of citizens.

Sponsor: BBK


Project to enlarge and remodel the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

The project with the pseudonym "Agravitas" submitted by UTE Foster + Partners Ltd. + LM Uriarte Arkitektura S.L.P., was chosen to be the winning proposal to enlarge and remodel the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

The jury has unanimously deemed that the winning project is the one that best meets the priority objectives, namely to provide the museum with more room to extend the display of its collections and to promote its exhibition, education and dissemination programmes.

The winning project will also resolve the museum's orientation to the city by once again making the façade of the old building, which today faces Plaza Euskadi, permeable. Furthermore, the new architecture will bring unique value to the institution's identity.

The maximum budget estimated by the museum for the execution of the future museum enlargement and remodelling contract is €18,658,200.00 (VAT included).


Norman Foster, Luis María Uriarte

The guiding idea behind this project is to gain back the protagonism of the 1945 building by restoring its original entrance. Over the existing installations, a uniquely-sized space is designed to respectfully rest over the 1945 and 1970 buildings, equipping the museum with 2,000 m2 of new galleries on a single open, flexible floor, an optimal gallery for any art curator.

The new remodelling turns Plaza Arriaga into the new heart of the museum's backbone, with light streaming in from the rooflight running across the new gallery, and all the levels on the ground floor will be unified to give the museum an accessible plane where it is easy to orient oneself.

The proposed remodelling is characterised by a new striated piece to enhance its slenderness, with a minimum number of supports placed far from the footprint of the existing buildings.

UTE Foster + Partners Ltd. + LM Uriarte Arkitektura S.L.P.

Norman Foster is the founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners, a global studio for architecture, urbanism and design, rooted in sustainability. His projects include the Reichstag in Berlin, the Great Court of the British Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, airports in Hong Kong and Beijing and headquarters buildings for Hearst (New York), Apple (Cupertino), Bloomberg (London), Comcast (Philadelphia) and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (Hong Kong). Current research projects, in association with The European Space Agency and NASA, are exploring solutions for the creation of habitations on the Moon and Mars.

He is president of the Norman Foster Foundation, based in Madrid with a global reach, promoting interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations of architects, designers and urbanists anticipate the future. He became the 21st Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate in 1999.

In 1997, he was appointed to the Order of Merit and in 1999 was granted a Life Peerage in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, taking the title of Lord Foster of Thames Bank. His passions include cross-country skiing, cycling and aviation.

He combines his professional practice with teaching at Universidad de Navarra and Academie van Bouwkunst in Amsterdam. Key projects include the following:

  • Reforma y ampliación del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2002
  • Reforma interior de lucernarios, solados y acabados del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2018
  • Centro de Artes Escénicas Getxo Antzokia–Musika Eskola, 2018–Getxo (Bizkaia)
  • Reforma y ampliación del Centro Público Docente Gandasegui, 2018–Getxo (Bizkaia)
  • Centro de Producción Cultural Antenna, 2014–Galdakao (Bizkaia)
  • Reforma del Pórtico de San Pedro, 1995–Llodio (Bizkaia)
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The proposals by the six teams which are on display in the exhibition are: