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The Bilbao effect

  • September 2007
  • EU and governance
  • Book or article

A 2007 article byBeatriz Plaza published for the famous museum's tenth anniversary, exploring the Guggenheim's effectiveness in reactivating the city’s economy.

Can the Bilbao effect be emulated elsewhere in the world?

Originally published in: MUSEUM NEWS Volume: 86 Issue: 5 : SEP-OCT 2007. American Association of Museums. Download the pdf below.

From the introdution:

"When a decaying industrial city in Spain’s Basque country decided in the 1990s to spend $228.3 million on a modern art museum, critics objected to squandering so much public money on something so irrelevant and exclusive. This year is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s (GMB) tenth anniversary, sufficient time since its opening to evaluate the museum’s effectiveness in reactivating the city’s economy.

The museum attracts an average of 800,000 non-Basque visitors a year (compared to less than 100,000 before GMB opened), possibly a world record for any third- or fourth-tier city. Despite attempts to emulate the Bilbao effect elsewhere in the world, very few new museums or galleries outside capital cities have succeeded in getting so many visitors."

Public resource


  • museum
  • effectiveness
  • economics
  • impact
  • bilbao