Will a 'Mini Bilbao' Bring the Crowds to Central Michigan?
Costing a total of $40 million, much of which was donated by billionaire alumnus and art collector Broad, the 46,000-square-foot museum was "deliberately designed to put [the University's] rural image to rest," reports Matthew Dolan. Although there's much debate about whether the so-called "Bilbao effect" - much admired and emulated across the world - effects any city other than Bilbao, the museum was reportedly designed to attract "cultural tourists who flock to architectural icons like the Frank Gehry's titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Spain."
"Surrounded by the university's Gothic Revival buildings on one side and the city's traditional main street on the other, the trapezoidal museum evokes a shimmering spaceship from a distant world," observes Dolan.
"If there's a danger that the museum's bold design could overwhelm the collection and exhibitions, [museum director Michael] Rush doesn't see it. During its construction, with its windows not yet fully installed, he stared at the edifice and saw what looked like a gaping whale, an image that gave him an admiring chuckle. 'I think it's going to keep people on their toes,' he said. 'I think it's pretty magical.'"