What makes a museum building successful? Until the arrival of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao in 1997, this question might have been almost exclusively focused on the best environments in which to view art. But the Guggenheim’s phenomenal success, which allowed the Basque government to recoup the construction costs within three years, moved the debate on to issues of branding and statement architecture.
Now the discussion has moved on again. In the public imagination, museums have been transformed from cultural destinations into leisure ones, and there has been a global rise in visitor numbers. Tate Modern’s new extension, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, was partly predicated on annual visitor numbers topping five million instead of the two million originally envisaged when the institution opened in 2000. — The Art Newspaper