On Some Challenges and Conditions for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to be an Effective Economic Re‐activator


The mission of a museum is essentially cultural, however this is not the case for all museums. There are a minority of universally famous museums, like the Tate Liverpool, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Tate Modern London, the new forthcoming Louvre‐Lens (France), the Guggenheim‐Hermitage in Vilnius (Lithuania) and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) whose principal aim is the re‐activation (and/or the diversification) of the economy of their territories, in addition to the obvious cultural aim. The effectiveness of a large heritage investment in developing a city depends on at least four variables. First, heritage investments become effective employment creators only to the extent that they become effective tourism magnets. Second, the impact of investments on cultural heritage could be negative if the heritage industry is a big portion of the whole economy. Third, the more the redevelopment zone’s markets are integrated, the easier the absorption of price tensions caused by urban revitalization. Fourth, the greater the productivity of the city’s economy, the greater the absorption of price tensions. The aim of this essay is to give empirical support to these hypotheses for the case of Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum.