The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at

Barbican Firsts: 1990s

Friday 3 March 2017

On 3 March 1982, the Barbican Centre opened its doors for the first time.

To celebrate our 35th anniversary, we’ve looked back through the archives and uncovered 35 Firsts from our boundary-pushing heritage over the last three and a half decades.

In this next chapter, we head back to the 1990s.

Explore our online scrapbook:

Share your Barbican Firsts with us on Twitter @barbicancentre #barbican35

#10) 10 Nov–13 Dec 1992: Tender is the North
First major celebration of Nordic culture in the UK
Our ‘Tender is the North’ festival of Nordic culture awoke the capital and the country to the rich and often little-known artistic bounty of the Northern lands of Scandinavia, Iceland and Finland. The festival featured an unforgettable Sibelius symphonic cycle conducted by Sir Colin Davis with the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle's Nielsen symphonic cycle with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
#11) 2 Sep–15 Dec 1996: Jam: Style + Music + Media
First gallery showing of Alexander McQueen
A snapshot of 90s urban style culture, JAM presented a cut and paste mix of still and moving images, clothes, music and new (at the time) interactive media. Intentionally unorthodox, JAM was neither art historical, anthropological nor deliberately instructive. It sought to give a platform to the diversity of creative people working outside the fine art arena, who were chosen for their empowering attitudes and a contemporary non-retro approach to image making, with ‘sampledelia’ – an eclectic spirit – often the defining characteristic. It featured leading names from photography, graphics, and fashion including Alexander McQueen and Goldie.
#12) 22 Jan–26 Nov 1998: Inventing America
First celebration of US culture in the world of this scale
In the most comprehensive survey and celebration of American culture, this year long season took over the Barbican, featuring over 90 concerts, 19 exhibitions, 9 cinema seasons, 12 productions, 19 talksand 5 themed weekends leading up to Thanksgiving in 1998.