Dia Beacon, Mass MoCa, Bilboa

If you build it they will come…..A new catalyst for economic development in depressed regions has been the investment in a museum, specifically a modern art museum. The Dia: Beacon museum revitalized Beacon, NY, Mass MoCa attracted art enthusiasts to North Adams, MA and the Bilbao Guggenheim  changed Bilbao, the northern Spanish port. Why have these infusions of capital and culture revitalized former blue collar communities? The development of a museum attracts tourists who are willing to spend their money, but more importantly the museums attract artists to setup nearby. The artists are attracted by the culture surrounding the museum and the low costs of living. Artists tend to live in areas where there is a low cost of living in order to reduce overhead while they  work on their art. The cost of living doesn’t stay low for long as a wealthier class is drawn to the new artist enclave and increase the living costs because of insufficient demand. Why do we visit museums? The curiosity and creativity of artists provide unique works of art which can be an outlet from our commercialized society. Each of these communities has capitalized on this theory and have populations which have either increased or stabilized since the development of a museum.  The creativity and uniqueness attracts others and slowly artists are driven from their homes because of increasing costs. This pattern has been repeated in cities many times throughout history, and I believe the pattern will be repeated in  the suburbs as artists are priced out of cities.

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