The year 2022 has been phenomenal for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, mainly thanks to the public’s support on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. Both the numbers of exhibition viewers and the mass attendance of events for the general public are proof that the Museum is in good health and remains a major attraction after 25 years.
After a semester of gradual recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum had its best summer in its history, hitting record-high numbers of visitors in August and September. With 1,289,147 visitors throughout the year, 2022 was the third best year after 2017 (20th anniversary) and 1998 (first year in operation, with wide media coverage). This figure attests to the Museum’s sustained success, its function as a driving force at the regional level, and its resilience in the face of adversity.
The special program of activities organized to celebrate the Museum’s anniversary reached out to a high number of visitors. In December, more than 50,000 people enjoyed Immersions, a show sponsored by Seguros Bilbao that turned Frank Gehry’s Atrium into the landscape for a sensory journey through the history of the Museum and the city of Bilbao. Celebrations, however, went on throughout the year. A full program of events was designed to bring concerts and performances to more than 13,000 people, including the performance of Gabriel Erkoreka’s Hamar (a piece composed for the Museum’s 10th anniversary) in April; the concert The World’s a Museum in May —a tale by Basque writer Kirmen Uribe set to music by the Bilbao Choral Society and the Euskadi Brass ensemble—; the Concert for Two Anniversaries by the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (BOS), which celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the open-air show Symfeuny by the street theater company Deabru Beltzak, which gathered 4000 people on the Museum’s forecourt, in June; the performance of Francisco Escudero’s Symphony No. 3 (Mythological Symphony) in September; the Museum performance and the street dance and music interventions across Bilbao of The Missing Element, as well as the action conducted by Cecilia Bengolea with Museum Members, in October; Joaquín Achúcarro’s piano concert in November; and the event for “Guggenheim Generation” youths in December. In addition, the exhibition of the Basque Artist Program, jointly launched in 2015 by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, welcomed 370,000 visitors. It showed works by the ten artists who participated in the program’s five editions so far.
In 2022, the Museum welcomed 1,289,147 visitors – 43% more than the previous year (when the Museum suffered the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic) and 10% (that is, 118,000 visitors) more than in 2019.
By country of origin, 50% visitors came from abroad —mostly from France (14%), Germany (5%), Great Britain (5%), USA (4%), and Italy (3%)—, while the remaining 50% were from Spain. As many of 27% domestic visitors were Basque Country residents. This is three times the usual amount, a rise that is in part the result of the successful BBK-sponsored campaign, “Denontzako BBKartea for All”, offering all Basque Country citizens free admission to the Museum from October 25 to December 2. The initiative drew over 100,000 visitors.
According to this year’s visitors, the Museum’s main attraction was the 25th anniversary art program. The exhibitions with the largest turnout were Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture, sponsored by Iberdrola and Volkswagen Group (751,243 visitors from April to September); Jean Dubuffet: Ardent Celebration, sponsored by BBK (668,347 visitors from February to August); Serra/Seurat. Drawings (451,353 visitors from June to September); and From Fauvism to Surrealism. Masterpieces from the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, sponsored by BBVA Foundation (262,164 visitors from February to May).
As to online activity, the website guggenheim-bilbao.eus had 3,489,771 visits and 10,627,462 web pages visited in 2022. This was 27% more than the previous year. As to social media, the Museum boasts a growing community and ever stronger influence, with 791,772 Instagram followers, 379,701 Facebook fans, and 371,543 Followers on Twitter.
In the education department, 64,556 engaged in the Museum’s educational activities in 2022, either online or onsite, whereas 772,592 visitors made use of the Museum’s educational spaces, which this year added Artetik: From the Art, an interactive installation designed with Google Arts & Culture with which visitors can explore how the artworks in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection make them feel. In addition, there were new activities for families, with the participation of 5464 people. Moreover, the Museum welcomed 16,223 schoolchildren, while Educators, the Museum’s free online community for teachers gathered 1999 members in its first year. Finally, 11,670 adult visitors attended the wide range of courses, talks, workshops, lectures, and shows organized by the Museum.
A huge community
Community, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s program for art and culture lovers, had 191,576 individual members in 2022, including 22,400 Museum Members —the highest number since the Museum’s opening—, 168,497 Followers (a free way of being connected to the Museum), and 679 members of the Erdu program, offering free admission to those dealing with unemployment.
Moreover, the Museum had 119 Corporate Members in 2022, who are also members of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Community. Corporate engagement is one of the Museum’s key sources of revenue. In addition to the regular contributions by Corporate members, in 2022 many of the Museum’s special exhibitions and anniversary activities were sponsored by business and corporations.
In 2022, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao had a stronger economic impact on the region than the previous year:
- The total demand generated by the Museum’s activity in the Basque Country was 472.5 million euro.
- The Museum’s contribution to GDP amounted to 413.9 million euro.
- The additional revenue for the Treasury of the Basque Country was 64.1 million euro.
- The Museum’s activity contributed to the maintenance of 8850 jobs.
In 2022, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao continued to be a leader among the top cultural institutions in Europe in terms of self-funding, at about 71%.