The establishment of centres specialising in modern art frequently plays an essential role in the revalorisation of municipal cultural space. In accordance with this trend, one of the objects which created part of a campaign of 'invigorating' the poor and devastated El Ravel quarter in Barcelona was Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), opened to the public in 1995. The seat of the museum as well as the square surrounding it were designed by Richard Meier. The modern, glass and translucent building contrasts with the dull and humble district surrounding it. The local authorities attached great hope to the museum, expecting that it would exert a positive impact on the quarter and its residents, animate trade, and provide funds to be used for the development of the whole district. In turn, the prime goal of the MACBA board was to create a significant international centre which would take an active part in the discussion on contemporary art. Moreover, members of the board declared that the very presence of the museum rendered assistance to the quarter. This conflict of interests still remains pressing. The article is based on on-the-spot research conducted in Barcelona in 2000 and an analysis of printed sources.