Juan Ignacio Vidarte will leave the direction of the Guggenheim Bilbao after three decades

At the end, this Monday, of the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, its director, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, has proposed starting the transition in the direction of the center, a process that will be formalized throughout this year. Vidarte considers that the time to close a cycle that has extended for three decades, and that it is your responsibility to open a new stage in the institution where other views and experiences are incorporated that take the baton and project the museum into the future, facing the challenges that it faces. they propose. This decision culminates a long and fruitful career of 32 years since in 1992 he was appointed director of the consortium in charge of launching the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and became, in 1996, its until now only director. A record in Spanish museology.

«A life cycle that began more than 30 years ago with the development of this ambitious and almost utopian project, the creation of a team to lead it and the launch of a museum different from any that existed then and that, at the same time, helped change the image and aspirations of a country,” says Vidarte, who will continue to be linked to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as director emeritus, and to the Guggenheim Foundation in international initiatives of a strategic nature related to the constellation of museums, such as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, not yet inaugurated.

Juan Ignacio Vidarte (Bilbao, 1956), always elegant, affable, calm and exquisitely treated, married with two children, he had the support of Thomas Krens, first, and Richard Armstrong, later, at the Guggenheim Foundation. Among his achievements, the collection has been revalued, multiplying it by seven or eight. «What seemed crazy 20 years ago, today seems like a bargain. We talk about Richard Serra, Rothko, Koons, Twombly… », he said in an interview with ABC. ‘The Matter of Time’, by Serra, is today a temple of contemporary art. Everyone wants to emulate the “Guggenheim effect.” Frank Gehry’s titanium building, the exhibitions – always attractive, combining scientific interest and popular appeal -, the training of a team of young and well-prepared professionals… have turned Bilbao into an essential destination for art lovers. One fact: in 2023 the museum was visited by 1,324,221 people, an absolute record. Vidarte will not pilot, however, the Guggenheim project in Urdaibai.

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