Un séminaire du collectif de recherche Mondes Urbains/ Urban Matters
Ever since the opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, major cultural institutions have become an important driver in the globalisation of cities. Known as cultural flagship buildings, however, these institutions have so far remained neglected in the literature on cities and globalisation, despite the large investments and transformative impact associated with them. Addressing this gap, this paper traces the global spread of new cultural flagships - large museums, multifunction arts venues, performance venues and libraries - between 1990 and 2019 as a globally mobile urban intervention, based on a custom-built database containing 411 flagship buildings worldwide with a total cost of USD2019 73 billion. It finds a strong increase in the number of new cultural flagships opened between the early 1990s and the late 2010s. What is more, there is a geographical shift away from the established centres of culture in North America and Western Europe and towards Asia, with a particular concentration in China and the Persian Gulf region. Shanghai stands out as the city with the highest number of cultural flagships in this period (13) among the 128 built in China. Shenzhen with 8 new institutions is the second in the list. The Western cities with the most flagships are Los Angeles and Miami, with five new buildings each. By contrast, Los Angeles, Paris and London have had fewer new flagships but overall the highest expenditure. Beyond illustrating the fast-changing geographies of global cultural circuits, our results call for an extension of the concept of global cities to encompass culture and a notion of global urbanism that recognises the dynamics of non-Western cities in sectors such as high culture, long considered a prerogative of Western cities. We also show that the new global geographies of cultural flagships transcend the Global North/Global South binary, as they show the rise of the Global East.
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