Home Magazine Most Iconic Frank Gehry Museums

Arguably the most important architect of the contemporary era and certainly the most famous living architect, Frank Gehry's unique style is hard to categorize. Although his earlier work is rooted in modernism, his later designs have consciously rejected modernist tropes. Experimenting with a range of materials, his buildings are entertaining and surprising, but also functional. 

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Gehry has designed a number of iconic buildings including the Bilbao Guggenheim, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and these have become world-renowned attractions. His style continues to evolve to the present day and he is still active in architectural design, creating bold testaments to his own innovative vision. Gehry draws much of his inspiration from art, both contemporary and classical. He treats each new commission as "a sculptural object" and he is particularly well-known for his asymmetrical designs on a grand scale.

The impact of Cubism, and the work of Pablo Picasso and Giorgio Morandi, is also apparent in many of his geometric and deconstructed works. All of Gehry's designs are united by their sense of movement; he embeds motion directly into his architecture so that his projects, flow, curve, bend, and crumple in novel and unexpected ways, subverting traditional building norms. Has allowed him to create increasingly experimental forms, particularly in his later 'crumpled paper' buildings Gehry is often burdened with the ugly title of “starchitect”, meaning a quasi-celebrity with a conspicuous stylistic signature which is applied regardless of function, context, sense or budget to grandiose vanity projects. This is unjust. There have been times when Gehry has let himself be abused in this way, but his buildings at their best are generous, thoughtful and responsive, with a high degree of attention to the ways in which they are built.


1.The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (1997)


Set on the edge of the Nervión River in Bilbao, Spain, the Guggenheim Museum is a fusion of complex, swirling forms and captivating materiality that responds to an intricate program and an industrial urban context. With over a hundred exhibitions and more than ten million visitors to its recognition, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao not only changed the way that architects and people think about museums but also boosted Bilbao's economy with its astounding success. In fact, the phenomenon of a city’s transformation following the construction of a significant piece of architecture is now referred to as the “Bilbao Effect.” Twenty years on, the Museum continues to challenge assumptions about the connections between art and architecture today. Read more about the the "Guggenheim effect".

2. The Foundation Louis Vuitton museum, Paris, France (2006)


Architect Frank Gehry successfully met the challenge of designing the Foundation Louis Vuitton museum, as an institution that tangibly expresses the client’s commitment to art and culture, vis-à-vis 21st-century architecture. The building comprises an assemblage of white blocks (known as “the icebergs”) clad in panels of fibre-reinforced concrete and surrounded by twelve immense glass “sails” supported by wooden beams. The sails give to the museum the transparency and sense of movement, while the modular design of the auditorium makes it an ideal venue for novel experiences and artistic encounters for the visitors. The Foundation Louis Vuitton opens an exciting new cultural chapter for Paris. It brings the city a new space devoted to art — especially contemporary art — and above all a place for meaningful exchanges between artists and visitors from Paris, from France, and from the entire world. 


3. The Vitra Design Museum, in Weil, am Rhein, Germany (1989)


The Vitra Design Museum is an internationally and privately-owned museum for design in Weil am Rhein, Germany. With its sculptural form composed of interconnected curving volumes, the museum is the unmistakable work of Frank Gehry. Housed in a striking stainless steel and brick building is often been described as a crumpled aluminium can by visitors and passersby. He limited his materials to white plaster and a titanium-zinc alloy. For the first time, he allowed curved forms to break up his more usual angular shapes.


4. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1993)


The design of the Museum of Frederick R. Weisman Art, also called simply Weisman Art Museum, highlighted by the use of curved metal structures as features in the works of Frank Gehry. The blinding effect generated by this facade when the sun reflects has caused much criticism among the inhabitants of the surrounding grounds that may dazzle to circulate in cars, still under the expressionistic style, the architect gets his work stand out and prove interesting for visitors. The design of his received the “Progressive Architecture Design Award in 1991.


5. Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, United States (2000)


The 140,000 square-foot building of shimmering sheet metal designed by architect Frank Gehry resembles a smashed electric guitar and is called “the Blob” by locals. It contains the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP is a place where music, science fiction, and many other things meet.

Cover image: Frank Gehry portrait. Photo by Henry Leutwyler. Courtesy Pinterest

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