Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Appoints Juan Ignacio Vidarte


(NEW YORK, NY – October 20, 2008) – The Board of Trustees of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation today announced the appointment of Juan Ignacio Vidarte as Chief Officer for Global Strategies.  Mr. Vidarte is currently Director General of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and will retain this position, dividing his time between Bilbao and New York.  The appointment reinforces the Foundation’s commitment to strengthening its outreach as expressed in the strategic plan.  Mr. Vidarte is expected to join the New York staff in November 2008.

As Chief Officer for Global Strategies, Mr. Vidarte will be a member of the Foundation’s senior management team reporting to the new Guggenheim Foundation Director, Richard Armstrong. He will have responsibility for initiating and implementing new ventures outside existing Foundation activities. Initially, Mr. Vidarte will work with Thomas Krens, outgoing Guggenheim Foundation Director and Senior Advisor for International Affairs, to insure the successful development of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

“Under Juan Ignacio’s leadership, the Guggenheim Bilbao has grown into a world-renowned cultural institution––winning awards and attracting almost 11 million visitors,” said William Mack, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation: “The Board is lucky indeed to have such an experienced member of our team willing to take on this important role and help insure the successful implementation of one of our largest initiatives ever.”

Mr. Vidarte’s involvement with the Guggenheim Foundation began in 1992 when––as Managing Director of the Consortium for the Guggenheim Bilbao Project––working with Thomas Krens and architect Frank Gehry, he oversaw the construction of the museum in Bilbao.  Four years later, on December 18, 1996, the Board of Trustees of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Foundation appointed Mr. Vidarte as the Director General.

Under Mr. Vidarte’s management, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has matured into an internationally acclaimed institution.  Since opening in October 1997, the Frank Gehry—designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao—a spectacular structure made of titanium, glass, and limestone—has welcomed almost 11 million visitors. Located in the Basque city of Bilbao in northern Spain, the museum features exhibitions organized by the Guggenheim Foundation, selections from the foundation’s extended collection, and several site-specific sculptures and installations by contemporary artists.  The museum is also committed to supporting and presenting the work of Basque artists. In 2006 the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao installed a specially commissioned work by Richard Serra, The Matter of Time, a permanent, site-specific installation of eight monumental sculptures.  The installation is part of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s commitment to commissioning works by the world’s most important artists specifically conceived for the unique architectural context of the Museum.  The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has been awarded numerous prizes, including: the Gold Medal in Fine Arts in 1999; the European Museum Forum Museum of the Year Award in 2000; the Tourist Appeal Award in 2005; and the EFQM Silver Q Award for Management Quality.

Mr. Vidarte has published numerous articles and delivered talks on the Museum’s management model and its economic impact, among other topics, including an appearance as guest speaker before the British House of Commons, where he delivered a paper entitled The Bilbao Effect.  He has also been invited to participate in national and international conferences such as the Brussels Capital of Europe seminar, organized by the European Commission and attended by such well-known figures as Romano Prodi, Umberto Eco, and Rem Koolhaas; and Encounters for a European Culture, an initiative organized by the President of the French Republic in May 2005 and attended by artists, scholars, and professionals from the world of culture world from each member states in the European Union.

Prior to his work at the Guggenheim, Mr. Vidarte served as Director of the Institute for Territorial Studies of Bizkaia beginning in 1986, was appointed General Director for Territorial Action of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia in 1988, and a year later was named General Director of Fiscal and Financial Policy, also in the Provincial Council of Bizkaia.

Born on February 20, 1956 in Bilbao, Juan Ignacio Vidarte graduated with a degree in economics and business studies from the University of Deusto in Bilbao in 1978, and took postgraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is married and has two daughters.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications.  Currently the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation owns and operates the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in Venice, and also provides programming and management for two other museums in Europe that bear its name: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a 452,000 square foot museum of modern and contemporary art designed by architect Frank Gehry, is scheduled to open in 2013.

#1100— October 20, 2008


In New York:
Eleanor Goldhar, Deputy Director, External Affairs
Betsy Ennis, Director, Media and Public Relations
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Tel 212 423 3840

In Bilbao:
Alicia Martinez
Director of Communications
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Tel 011 34 94 435 90 21

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