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Juan Ignacio Vidarte to Step Down as Director General of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao This Year After Three Decades of Service

  • After 27 years as Director General, Vidarte says time is right to give way to new experiences and reflect ideas and perspectives of next and emerging generations.
  • International selection process initiated and expected to conclude in fall 2024.
  • Vidarte to remain engaged with Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and expand role with Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

In a press conference today, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, Director General of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, shared thoughts on his decision to step down from the role and details of the search for the next leader of the museum. Vidarte initiated the transition plan at a regular meeting of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Board of Trustees on May 20.

Vidarte has held the role of founding Director General of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao for 27 years since his appointment in 1996 and served as Director of the Consortium for the development of the Guggenheim Bilbao Project beginning in 1992, overseeing construction of the Frank Gehry-designed museum building.

In remarks today, Vidarte shared that his decision comes at a moment when the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is flourishing, with historic levels of attendance (1.3 million visitors in 2023), economic impact (760 million euros in 2023), social and institutional support, and self-financing. He also noted the museum’s significant achievements in digital transformation, environmental sustainability, and the development of an internationally renowned program and collection.

Having served as the only Director General in the history of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Vidarte said, “I believe it is my responsibility to promote generational change by facilitating the process of identifying the person who will lead the museum in the coming years, writing another chapter in its history, and to give way to new voices and initiatives that will continue this success story. As an institution committed to the art of today, the museum must remain dynamic and reflect the ideas and perspectives of the next and emerging generations. Guiding this transition is my commitment.”

Vidarte expressed his gratitude to the leaders of the Basque administrations who “placed their trust in me three decades ago when they appointed me to lead the Consortium created to promote this project, and to the Board of Trustees, who gave me the responsibility and privilege of being the new museum’s first Director General. I am deeply indebted to them for their support, wisdom and guidance.”

He also thanked the Board of the Guggenheim Foundation “with whom we have forged a strong alliance over these many years as we worked together to develop artistic programming of international impact and acclaim.”

In addition to his role with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Vidarte is Deputy Director and Chief Global Strategy Officer of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, a post he has held since 2008. He will continue in this role, which will expand under the leadership of Mariët Westermann, Director and CEO elect of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. Reporting to and working closely with Westermann, Vidarte will assist in oversight of the Foundation’s relationship with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; continue his involvement in the development of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project; and support the strategic framework of the Foundation and initiatives to enhance shared purpose, collaboration and synergy across its international constellation of museums—which also includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

The Board of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has initiated the process for selecting the next Director General, a search to be led by a specialized international firm with extensive experience in recruiting executives within the artistic and cultural industry. This process is expected to conclude in fall 2024. Beginning June 3, candidates can find more information on the museum’s website:

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was established in 1937 and is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The international constellation of museums includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. An architectural icon and “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is now among a group of eight Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the United States recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. To learn more about the museum and the Guggenheim’s activities around the world, visit

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