The symbolic purpose of the Guernica Museum is twofold: to remind us of the bombing of Guernica, which changed the world as we knew it, and to depict the basic human optimism that somehow prevails in the face of such events.
The Plaza de la Union has been ruptured along the path the German bombers took as they flew toward the sea and returned to make run after run on the people and animals assembled there. The wall of the plaza is ruptured as are five Platonic solids representing ideal and perpetual values — the cone, pyramid, cylinder, cube and sphere.
The top halves of the Platonic solids rise from the glass roof of the museum. Made of polished blood-red granite, they reveal their geologic features in the ruptured areas. The wall at the underground museum level is also made of blood-red granite, symbolizing a lost ideality. The lower halves of the ruptured Platonic solids come to rest on a grass floor and are made of the same granite. It is as if the earth itself had been sheared by the hostile act wrought upon it.
The lower grass level is in fact a park for the citizens of Guernica. This level is presented as a profane space while the upper plaza is presented as a sacred space. The rupture between the two represents the struggle between those disparate aspects of the human condition. Inside the linear museum the opaque ceiling sections at the five points of the half-Platonic solids block out the sky, reminding us forever of the path of the German bombers. On the flat interior wall of the museum, “negative” reproductions of the final painting and of the sketches — black on black — are hung, as if to hide that infamous event of 1937 in the shadows of history.