The Global Museum - Venice, Bilbao, Berlin: the orbit of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York.
Entering general discourse is the expression 'the Bilbao effect', referring to urban renewal spurred on by high-profile culture. The specific story is this: In 1997 a spectacular museum, designed by celebrity architect Frank Gehry is opened in the rundown industrial city of Bilbao in the north of Spain. Named Guggenheim Bilbao it was to be the one of a group of worldwide institutions strategically coordinated from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation NY. Within the first year, Guggenheim Bilbao with 1.36 million visitors had paid for its building costs and the city had become alive with the pulse of economic growth and development. Its success prompted more than 60 requests to build 'branches' in other locations. In January this year however, the Chairman of the Guggenheim Foundation NY and long time benefactor to the Foundation (some $77million) Peter Lewis, resigned and blew the cover. Lewis resigned allegedly not only because of the financial position of the Guggenheim NY (which has been perilous), but interestingly because he believed the Guggenheim's reputation was at stake. The Guggenheim's search for cash seems to have motivated the all sorts of exhibitions put on the circuit. This paper will look at the spirit of goodwill that is the public face of the Guggenheim global ventures. It will also look at the price tags along the way created to assist the financial insolvency that threatens the home base. Finally it will consider the growing criticism of the long-term benefits of the Guggenheim global branding and marketing of culture.
Sites of Cosmopolitanism : Citizenship, Aesthetics, Culture
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