October is a month of celebration in Bilbao: it has been 25 years since the opening of the Guggenheim Museum, one of the most unique buildings in the world, which has also started an important trend in the museum world.
Frank Gehry is one of the most influential architects of our time. His designs include the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Dancing House in Prague. His name hallmarks an important term, as well: the Bilbao Effect. The creation of a new museum in the 1990s in this dreamy little town in a calmer part of Spain was not a secret attempt to boost tourism, but no one expected what happened next. Once Gehry’s trademark, the ultra-modern building with its corrugated sheet metal was completed, an estimated $160 million more flowed into the Basque territory’s pockets the following year. The Guggenheim Museum has completely altered the image of the traditional Basque-style city and turned it into a major tourist destination, attracting nearly 1.2 million people a year.
The unprecedented economic stimulus has since seen countless cities, large and small, adopt this tactic. Buildings such as the London Eye can be attributed to the Bilbao Effect, but several buildings by Zaha Hadid, also known as a “starchitect”, and Kengo Kuma have also shaken up medium-sized towns.
The museum was opened twenty-five years ago today, on 18 October 1997. Its birthday will be celebrated with exhibitions, performances, and concerts throughout October. For detailed program, click here: Guggenheim Bilbao.
Cover photo: Unsplash/Mark Neal