University of Nevada, Reno

Basque Center

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Course Syllabi


Online Course C460 · Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

Museums, Architecture, City Renewal:
the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

Instructor: Joseba Zulaika, Ph. D.
Phone: (775) 784-4854, e-mail:

Course Description
The spectacular Guggenheim Museum, designed by Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, has put Bilbao on the map. The study of Bilbao’s fin de millenium provides an example of the interdependencies between museum culture, the international art market, spectacular architecture, tourism, the politics of local identities, urban regeneration discourse, the media, late capitalist strategies, and the promotional selling of national images in a postmodern world.

The approach of this course will be multidisciplinary: cultural studies, anthropology, urbanism and architecture, museum, and popular culture. These areas will all be brought to bear for contextualizing the creation, decline, and regeneration of cities. The student must read the literature perceptively, get an understanding of the relevant issues, and develop a perspective from where to view and judge the contemporary cultural and political transformations. We will also look comparatively at other American and European cities with similar problems of urban regeneration.

Course Goals
What strategies should cities mobilize to regain economic prosperity after the demise of their old industrial bases? What is the role of arts, architecture, museums, and cultural industries in regenerating urban centers? What are the defining features of the new “global postmodern” space in which cities have to compete? What is meant by neologisms such as the “disneyfication,” the “mcdonaldization,” and the “las vegasing” of society? These are some of the questions we will be grappling with during this course.

Study Guidelines
This course has twenty-eight lessons. Each lesson requires about fifty pages of independent reading, plus lecture notes.

You are expected to read the materials in order to be able to summarize, comment, present objections, draw inferences, as well as compare and contrast with other relevant literature covered by the course. Please contact the instructor if you are having problems with the readings or with any other aspect of the course.

Course Requirements
Each lesson requires an essay question of two to three pages. The essay should creatively engage with the facts and ideas presented in the written materials and should not consist of merely repeating the information offered by the instructor and the readings.

A Mid-course Exam and a Final Exam are required.

Course Grade

Each essay (28 lessons)
Mid-course Exam
Final Exam
Total points possible

  25 points
150 points
150 points
1000 points

Grade Scale
97 -100% = A+
93 - 96% = A
90 - 92% = A-
87 - 89% = B+
83 - 86% = B
80 - 82% = B-
77 - 79% = C+
73 - 76% = C
70 - 72% = C-
60 - 69% = D
  0 - 59% = F


Copyright © 2000 the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno. All rights reserved. Updated 13 June 2000. E-mail: