Where cars meet art: Norman Foster's automobile exhibition at Guggenheim Bilbao

Car Culture

Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture features 40 cars and multiple artworks at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, examining the aesthetic achievements of a century of car culture

Pegaso side view

Pegaso Z-102 Cúpula from 1952 is space-inspired

Louwman Museum

Lord Norman Foster is credited with the development of high-tech architecture, but who knew he was a car enthusiast as well?

The man behind London’s City Hall, Gherkin and Millennium Bridge has curated a new Motion. Autos, Art, Architecture exhibition which was opened to the public on April 8 at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Spearheaded by the world-famous architect with help from museum curators Lekha Hileman Waitoller and Manuel Cirauqui, it brings together technology and art.

The exhibition consists of seven galleries and spotlights a century’s worth of automotive design, giving visitors an insight into how aerodynamically designed cars influenced the creation of locomotives and everyday household appliances.

GM technical centre

General Motors Technical Center


Bugatti 57SC

Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

Michael Furman

There are sculptural masterpieces, including the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic and spaceship-inspired Pegaso A-102 Cupula, as well as cars that brought mobility to the masses, including the VW Beetle and Microbus (Volkswagen is sponsoring the exhibition). A Mercedes W11 from the 2020 F1 season, is among the displays from the sporting sphere, while paintings and photographs from the likes of Ed Ruscha and Dorothea Lang complement a hot rod and muscle car in the Americana section.

While it is a look at history, it also gives a peek into the future of automobiles, with proposals from design and architecture schools.

Mercedes F1 car

Mercedes W11


Alfa Romeo BAT side view

Alfa Romeo BAT Car 7

Michael Furman

“This exhibition is a requiem for the age of combustion,” says Foster. “What lessons do we learn from the past? There are always pessimistic and optimistic scenarios. And I passionately believe the future is always better.”

A total of 40 cars from the 20th and 21st centuries are on display, surrounded by artwork and architecture showcasing the history of speed and movement. Nine of the cars belong to Foster’s personal collection, including the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, the 1961 Jaguar E-type, and the 2010 Dymaxion Car 4. Porsche’s first car, the 1898 Phaeton, is also on display.

The presence of a clay-modelling studio and the sound of a car roaring past every 15 minutes offer an immersive experience.

The exhibition is open to the public until September 18, 2022.