On 5 October 1908 the City Council and the Provincial Council of Vizcaya signed the founding deed of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, an institution of reference for both the city and the museum world in general.
To mark its 110th anniversary the museum is now presenting the exhibition ABC. The alphabet of the Bilbao Museum, sponsored by BBK and curated by the writer Kirmen Uribe (born Ondarroa, Vizcaya, 1970). This is an unprecedented type of exhibition which will occupy the entire Old Building, Rooms 1 to 31, following the major redesign of its interior space undertaken in the past few months.
The exhibition's starting point is an original idea through which the museum is intending to combine the remodelling of its galleries with a new form of presenting the collection to visitors, resulting in a new way of seeing them. With this aim in mind the traditional criteria for displaying works – chronologically or through schools of art and artists – have been replaced by an extended alphabet that includes 26 letters plus the "ñ" and the "ll" used in Spanish and the Basque digraphs "ts", "tx" and "tz".
The exhibition has taken shape through the literary curatorship of the writer Kirmen Uribe who is particularly familiar with the museum, having regularly visited since his childhood. This is evident in his books Bilbao-New York-Bilbao (his first novel, published in 2009) and The moment of waking up together (his most recent, published in 2016), in which paintings by Aurelio Arteta and Antonio de Guezala are a key element in the respective plots.
Using each of these 31 letters, Uribe has sought out a key word in Basque, Spanish, English or French that functions as the literary inspiration and curatorial argument for the choice of a work of art from the Museum's collection, displayed in each of the galleries of the Old Building. This unique installation has also benefited from the collaboration of artists Ana Isabel Román and Eduardo López.