Bilbao offers a wide range of cultural activities with a wide variety of museums, galleries and cultural centres at its epicentre. Modern and contemporary art accounts for a large part of this offer, but it is not the only artistic expression to be found in the capital.
Here are the most important museums and art galleries in Bilbao, which should not be missing from your list of must-sees.
Differences between Art Museums and Art Galleries
Broadly speaking, the main difference is usually to be found in funding and space. Galleries are usually a place to exhibit, promote and sell works of art, while the museum focuses more on the conservation and exhibition of these works.
In addition, museums are usually located in large buildings whereas galleries can be as small as a single room.
Museums in Bilbao
Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
The masterpiece of iconic architect Frank Gehry should be our first obligatory stop as the best museum to visit in the city and one of the main attractions to visit in Bilbao. Avant-garde art housing contemporary art, that could be the perfect summary of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Walk around its eleven thousand square metres of permanent and temporary exhibitions, and there are still more than ten thousand square metres in which to enjoy the forms of this museum made into a work of art.
Museo Bellas Artes de Bilbao
It is one of the most important cultural centres in our country, not only because of the large number of works it houses, but also because of the large number of years and periods that its exhibition covers.
More than ten thousand objects that cover our history from the 13th century to the present day. Art on paper, ancient, modern, impressionist and contemporary art under the same roof. Its collection of works from the Spanish school is still the most important, with works by Basque artists and those from the rest of the country.
Euskal Museoa Bilbao Museo Vasco
It is currently closed due to comprehensive works on its facilities, but this is no reason not to mention it and its great historical importance. Its three-storey structure over a brilliant cloister makes this building a work of art in itself.
Within its walls, Basque culture is exhibited throughout decades and centuries of history through more than twenty thousand objects.
Museo de Reproducciones de Bilbao - Bilboko Berreginen Museoa
Open since 1927, its aim, between permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, is to bring to the public iconic artistic pieces from the best museums in Europe: the Vatican Museums, the Louvre, the British Museum and the Berlin Museum.
Thus, we will find faithful reproductions of Michelangelo's Moses, the Frieze of the Panathenaeas of the Parthenon, the Victory of Samothrace or the Venus de Milo, among others.
Finally, don't forget to visit the site of the Plaza del Corazón de María.
Museo Arqueológico de Bilbao – Bizkaiko Arkeologi Museoa
Since its opening in this building in 2008, its two floors have borne witness to the history of the whole of Bizkaia from its first steps in prehistoric times. It exhibits, conserves and restores every object found throughout the community that has historical value.
Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao - Itsasmuseum Bilbao
This is the great one in charge of showing us the great evolution that the estuary, la Ría, has undergone over the years. Witness and learn how the estuary, la Ría, and the Port of Bilbao have been present in the lives of the people of Bilbao for centuries.
Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro - Eleiz Museoa
A journey through time, from some archaeological remains from the third century to the twentieth century. In its more than 2,000 pieces, 500 of which are on permanent display, we will see works divided between sculpture-painting, gold and silver work and ornaments (this corresponds to the vestments).
Museo Taurino de Bilbao - Bilboko Zezen Museoa
The Vista Alegre Bullring opened the doors of this museum in 1995, offering a journey through the history of bullfighting. To do so, it makes use of photographs, some prints by Goya himself, original bullfighting posters, books and other relics of this discipline.
Museo Athletic Club - AC Museoa
This is a great moment for football fans. At the San Mamés stadium you can enjoy the AC Museoa, a museum that explains the history of Athletic Club in an unconventional way.
Interactive and immersive, it offers a unique collection of original objects related to the club and the history of the beautiful game.
Best Art Galleries in Bilbao
Galería de Arte Juan Manuel Lumbreras
Just 400 metres away from the Fine Arts Museum and the Guggenheim Museum, the Lumbreras Gallery is the third vertex of a unique artistic triangle in the art scene.
In its 450m2 we can enjoy works by young, contemporary and avant-garde talents who play with different approaches to a common reality.
Without leaving the vicinity of the ever-present Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, we come to the CarrerasMugica Gallery. It is an old warehouse converted into a cultural space where both renowned and emerging artists exhibit their works in pursuit of Bilbao's cultural boom.
The quality of the works has led this gallery to be considered one of the most important galleries in the north of the country.
Galería Michel Mejuto
We continue without leaving the centre, moving in the shadow of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Guggenheim, we arrive at the Michel Mejuto Gallery. Here we are fully immersed in Basque art.
Through sculptures, engravings, drawings and paintings we travel from the 19th century to the present day in a veritable binge of local art, highlighting the historical avant-garde and the abstract, with great names of their own.
Since its appearance on the cultural scene in 1991, its aim has always been to disseminate numerous contemporary artistic practices. Contemporary artistic production through different representations and approaches.
Sergio García Bayón was in charge of opening the doors of this contemporary art gallery in 2008. He has a great artistic activity, with several solo and group exhibitions a year, as well as representing and collaborating with big names in the cultural scene. Always creating, always innovating.
Internationally renowned, this gallery was inaugurated in 1984 and is one of the most prestigious in the city of Bilbao. It focuses on contemporary art and is very active, with an average of seven solo exhibitions a year. It integrates a great deal of new technology into its system that allows it to keep moving forward as well as creating trends.
Galería Espacio Marzana
A gallery that is committed to both emerging artists and names already recognised on the local and national cultural scene. In constant collaboration with the Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo, it offers its visitors the most exciting and emotional contemporary art.