Press Release

Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Foundation

The Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Foundation has met today under the presidency of Iñigo Urkullu, Lehendakari, with the following persons in attendance: Elixabete Etxanobe, Deputy General of Biscay and President of the Executive Committee of the Foundation; Bingen Zupiria, Deputy of Culture and Linguistic Policy, Basque Government; Leixuri Arrizabalaga, Deputy of Basque, Culture, and Sport, Provincial Council of Biscay; Juan María Aburto, Mayor of Bilbao; Jon Azua, representative of the Basque Institutions to the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; and representatives of the corporations and entities that comprise the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The session started with the Board expressing their recognition to Iñigo Urkullu on his last meeting after twelve years serving as its President. The topics in the agenda continued with an overview of the balance results of the Museum, which has received 379.006 visitors as of today, 11 % over the estimates for the period and 1% more than in the same months of 2023. The return to normality has meant the recovery of the percentage of foreign visitors, which in 2024 is 5 points above that of the first four months of 2023 totaling 61%, with France on the lead with 18%, followed by countries such as United Kingdom and Germany. With regard to the Museum’s Community around art and culture that includes Friends, Followers, and beneficiaries of the Erdu Program, among others, total membership continued to grow reaching over 285,000 people—17,000 over the figure at the 2023 year-end. Of them, almost 24,000 are Friends of the Museum, and 11% of the new Friends in these first four months of 2024 had previously been Followers, which means they have strengthened their commitment toward the Museum.

The meeting proceeded with a summary of some of the exhibition projects the Museum is currently working on for 2025, such as the retrospective surveys dedicated to women artists Tarsila do Amaral, a key figure of Brazilian modernism, and to Portuguese artist Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, whose work is situated between representation and abstraction; as well as a presentation of recent work by Barbara Kruger, who uses language to address viewers directly in her immersive text-filled installations. The Museum will also show a significant selection of drawings and prints from the Museum of Fine Arts – National Hungarian Gallery of Budapest, which will highlight the importance of the works on paper in human expression. Finally, rooted in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s Environmental Sustainability Action Plan, the exhibition Arts of the Earth will propose a new interpretation of environmentally oriented art from the last decades.

The Film & Video gallery will start the year’s programming with a subjective journey through Vito Acconci’s career in video and performance installed in a configuration designed by Basque artist Sergio Prego; and will follow with Sky Hopinka’s piece Fainting Spells (2018), where the artist reflects on the power and limits of intercultural communication. In 2025 a new series of exhibitions will begin under the title in situ featuring artworks created specifically for the spaces in which they will be presented, pieces that will activate the architecture or exist in harmony with the Museum’s iconic galleries. The inaugural showing of in situ will be an immersive, multisensory piece by Refik Anadol, a pioneer of AI esthetics; while the second in the series will be dedicated to Mark Leckey and the multiplicity of sources that go into his works, such as sound, sculpture, and performance. The Museum’s Art Program will also include an ongoing presentation from the Museum Collection.

At the end of the meeting, Juan Ignacio Vidarte put forward a proposal to the Board to initiate the transition process for selecting the next Director General of the Museum, a process that is expected to conclude in fall. Juan Ignacio Vidarte believes that the time is right to close this phase of a cycle and write another chapter in the history of the Museum, giving way to new perspectives and experiences, and leading the Museum into the future facing the challenges that may arise. This decision culminates a life’s work for 32 years since he was appointed Director of the Consortium for the development of the Museum project in 1992, and in 1996 its founding Director General.

“I believe the time is right to close this phase of a cycle that began with the development of an ambitious, almost utopian, initiative, the creation of a team to lead it, and the launch of a museum unlike any other—one that could and did help transform the image and aspirations of an entire country,” stated Juan Ignacio Vidarte.

Upon conclusion of the process, Juan Ignacio Vidarte will remain connected to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as Director Emeritus and to the Guggenheim Foundation in support of strategic initiatives related to its international Constellation of Museums.

Juan Ignacio Vidarte will elaborate on this matter during a press conference to be held tomorrow, Tuesday May 21 at 10:30 am at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Images of the Exhibitions 2025


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