The Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Foundation met earlier today under the presidency of Mr Iñigo Urkullu, President of the Basque Government, and the following attendants: Mr Unai Rementeria, Deputy General of Biscay and President of the Executive Committee of the Foundation; Mr Bingen Zupiria, Minister of Culture of the Basque Government; Ms Lorea Bilbao, Deputy of Basque, Culture and Sports of the Provincial Council of Biscay; Mr Juan María Aburto, Mayor of Bilbao; representatives from the companies and entities that form part of this governing body of the Foundation (some online); and the Directors of the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, Mr Richard Armstrong (online) and Mr Juan Ignacio Vidarte, respectively.
The session started with a few words by the Director of the Museum about the global situation since the state of alarm was decreed last March 14, and specifically how the temporary closure of the Museum has affected operations. In this context, some departments had to adapt their work methods to ensure the adequate conditions for the conservation of the works of art and the building, while remote work was implemented as an alternative to guarantee the sustainability of the Museum’s activities. Lastly, the offering of online content on the Internet and social media increased significantly through #GuggenheimBilbaoLive, which has been uploading videos on current exhibitions, Frank Gehry’s building, testimonials from the Museum’s professionals about their work, art in the Collection, family activities, sponsored by BBK, etc.
The Museum results during the first five months of the year have been seriously affected by the temporary closure. Despite the fact that the usual indicators were in line with the estimated figures or even above (e.g., visitors as of March 14 were 20% over estimates, i.e. 128,242 people), the closure of the Museum has had an important impact on the income it obtains through ticket sales, activities, events, store sales, etc. Therefore it was necessary to make a comprehensive analysis of the key parameters of operations, such as the Art Program or the operating expenses, and carry out significant cuts to guarantee the economic sustainability of the Museum.
Regarding programming, and since the four exhibitions opened between mid-February and mid-March had hardly been seen by the public—Olafur Eliasson: In real life, sponsored by Iberdrola; Richard Artschwager, Lygia Clark. Painting as an Experimental Field, 1948–1958; and William Kentridge: 7 Fragments—the Museum was able to reorganize their schedule by extending them until, at least, after the summer, incorporating in the last quarter of the year the shows devoted to Lee Krasner and Kandinsky, the latter sponsored by the BBVA Foundation.
With readjustments in mind, work is in progress regarding the programming for 2021, which will include an exhibition on painting by Basque artists in the fin de siècle, a presentation about the artistic concepts of the Roaring Twenties, initially scheduled for the end of 2020, a show about the contribution of women artists to the language of abstraction, and an analysis of Alice Neel’s expressive portraits. Furthermore, the videoinstallations by Alex Reynolds, Cecilia Bengolea, and Fischli & Weiss will reinforce the programming of the Film & Video gallery, as well as the Museum’s commitment towards presenting benchmark works in new media.
The Board of the Sociedad Tenedora Museo de Arte Moderno de Bilbao met on the same day, and the long-term loan of Lucio Fontana’s Neon Structure for the Nineth Milan Triennial (Struttura al neon nella IX Triennale di Milano) by the Fondazione Lucio Fontana was approved. This piece was included in the exhibition dedicated to the artist presented by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2019.