Library and archive - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum


Information on the phone 944 39 61 42
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The library today is an essential stop for anyone researching subjects in art. Created in 1985, the library, which specializes in Basque art, has compiled a major collection of more than 35,800 essays and some 311 periodical publications and journals. It possesses single-subject essays, exhibition and auction catalogues, museum collection catalogues, handbooks and reflections on museology, art theory, artistic techniques, conservation and restoration, works of art history and movements in art, architecture, sculpture, the decorative arts, drawing, design, painting, the graphic arts, photography and film, and the Museum’s own publications.


  • Bibliographic and documentary collections, reference collections and a newspaper library. The automatic catalogue may be consulted using either the On-line Public Access Catalogue (webOPAC) consultation screens in the Library or by directly accessing the museum website. Students, visitors and researchers also have microfiche, microfilm and audio-visual materials at their disposal as well as laptop connections and may access Internet in order to consult matters related to artistic research and the Library’s own databases, such as:

    • Arteder. The Basque Art Database: founded and administered by the Library itself. Consultations may be made either through the url or through the museum’s web.
    • Artprice: a database specialising in art auctions.
    • Art, Design & Architecture Collection: platform that includes databases ARTbiblioghraphies Modern (ABM), Arts & Humanities Database, Design & Applied Arts Index (DAAI) and International Bibliography of Art (IBA).
  • The personalised treatment dispensed to Users endeavours to resolve any doubts that may arise regarding the working, services and resources of the Library whilst helping them obtain the necessary information and/or documents for their research. Consultations may be made from the Library, by telephone, by E-mail and in writing.

Document reproduction service via self-service photocopier within the limits set by the Law on Intellectual Property. The responsibility for complying with this law falls on the user who makes the copies. The Library staff shall determine whether or not special documentation may be reproduced, as well as the most appropriate method.
Mobile devices may also be used with the prior permission of the Gallery staff and are also subject to compliance with the laws in force.
It is understood that documents are to be reproduced for private uses, exclusively for study or research, and in compliance with the rules established by the Law on Intellectual Property.

  • The Library is happy to consider users’ suggestions for the acquisition of works not present in its holdings. Requests can be made through our contact form or through the OPAC of AbsysNet.

  • The library accepts requests for loans from other libraries and processes applications from users needing loans for their research.

    Loans are for one month from the time of sending the copy and only three copies will be lent per loan request. An extension can be requested assuming the loan period has not expired.

    The Library of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum does not cover the corresponding cost of requests, and the established fee is 10 Euros (plus VAT) for each delivery.

    Loans are made solely for the purposes of research and academic study. The requesting library is responsible for the correct conservation of the loaned items.

    Items must be requested (with sufficient bibliographical data to make them identifiable) from here

  • The library runs a publications exchange programme with major Spanish and international institutions. For a list of publications available for exchange, go to: Catalogues, Guides y Other book.


Basque Art Database is a Museum project associated with our general mission to promote research and the furtherance of artistic endeavour in our area. A benchmark resource for specialists and researchers in Basque art, ARTEDER has amassed a significant corpus of information on the leading figures in Basque art, and work continues to improve and enlarge the collection.


The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Archive was created in response to the need to gather, conserve, classify and divulge the contents of the documents generated by Museum’s many different Departments over its hundred-year-old existence.

Thus, it satisfies the requirements of current laws of the Basque Autonomous Community, such as Basque Cultural Heritage Law 7/1990 and Decree 232/2000 by dint of which Archive Services and other regulatory norms concerning Basque Documentary Heritage are approved and regulated. Preliminary studies are currently being carried out prior to implementing an integral documentary handling system.

The Collections mainly comprise minutes of the Boards, annual reports, registries of works of art, annual inventories, general correspondence and a large and varied collection of photographs, the majority of which depict the Fine Arts Museum building. Those Collections related to the activities of the Modern Art Museum are rather more limited. A large percentage of these documents is currently in the process of being digitalised and computerised.

In addition to the documentation generated purely by the Museum itself, the Archive also conserves documents of historical and artistic interest from different private donations or acquired by the Museum itself with particular attention being given to documents concerning Basque artists. In this particular field, the following stand out: the Gutiérrez de Zubiaurre Collection that has gathered correspondence between the brothers Valentín and Ramón and sister Pilar de Zubiaurre and work undertaken by Bilbao art critic, Ricardo Gutiérrez Abascal during his exile as Professor of the National School for Architecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, but who is perhaps better known under his pseudonym of Juan de la Encina. Another outstanding donation of documents is that related to the painter, Balerdi that includes correspondence, photographs, slides, etc., the majority of which deal with exhibitions of the artist’s work. In the field of acquisitions, the Uranga Collection includes some quite extraordinary collected letters covering correspondence with artists such as Ignacio Zuloaga, Francisco Durrio, Darío de Regoyos and Manuel Losada, amongst others.

Collections are at the complete disposal of researchers who previously confirm the reasons for their consultations.

Tel. 94 439 61 42

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