«40% of tourists visit Barcelona for a second or third time»
On 17 September the Faculty of Humanities went to visit one of the buildings that has newly become emblematic of Catalan Modernism. The Casa Lleó Morera was the location chosen for a round table organised as part of our Postgraduate Degree in Catalan Modernism: Art and Management, in order to discuss the present and future situation in terms of maintaining and managing our Modernist heritage. These types of buildings are increasingly being visited by people from all around the world.
The round table, attended by around fifty people, was coordinated by Carme Clusellas, a lecturer on the Master's in Cultural Management programme at UIC Barcelona and Director of the Girona Art Museum. She will be accompanied by Luis Bosch, responsible for the Modernism Tour in Barcelona City Council; Isabel Vallés, a Manager at Casas Singulares and Gemma Losa, Director of the Modernism Museum in Barcelona.
The talks given by the various speakers were useful in order to understand a little bit of the history behind what the conservation work on large Modernist works has involved until now, both in Barcelona and in the rest of Catalonia. "The Olympics - said Luis Bosch– were a very important time in terms of providing a boost to the restoration of many monuments which we enjoy (looking at) today". In fact, said Isabel Vallés, discussing her own case: "We describe the history of our country through these singular buildings, particularly in the case of the Casa Lleó Morera."
Along these lines, Bosch, as the person in charge of the Modernism Tour, explained that "the main objective was to make our heritage known, so that a lot of people would come and visit and then we could continue to restore more buildings". However, he also recognised that "all of this Modernism is well-preserved above all thanks to the owners, not only the City Council".
Obviously, the Modernism Museum in Barcelona has plenty to say, in terms of history. "We have a heritage that is truly courageous - said the Director of the museum- it is an extraordinary collection which was already ahead of its time in 1948. At that time Modernism was not valued as much as it is today".
One of the main challenges identified in the session was the large numbers of tourists in Barcelona, precisely due to the historical awakening we had been discussing beforehand. "It is clear that Modernism is very important in Catalonia - said Carmen Clusellas–,but now we must find a balance between conservation and the advantages of tourism". With Barcelona placed right at the centre of this. According to Bosch, "40% of tourists come back to visit Barcelona two or three times, and they take advantage of the opportunity to visit Terrassa, La Garriga, Reus, etc. As Barcelonians, we should be very proud of having become this hub (of activity)". The problem, according to Vallés, is that "we find it hard to open up to the rest of Catalonia and our job is to help make this great heritage of ours known and also be aware of it (ourselves)".
There was plenty of participation in the round table, where, despite the fact that increasing tourism is causing difficulties, people were full of optimism. One of the reasons for this was due to the high level of the studies currently being carried out on Modernism. "In Barcelona – said Isabel Vallès– there are many people undertaking large research projects in this area. There is nowhere else in Europe where there are so many people specialised in Modernism all in one place". It was for this reason that the Postgraduate Degree in Catalan Modernism: Art and Management was created. It is almost like the younger child of the Master's Degree in Cultural Management-said Teresa Vallès, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.