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Centre Pompidou in Paris
Le Centre Pompidou was opened in 1977 under the auspices of French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou. He envisioned a type museum space that France hadn’t seen before: a space where modern and contemporary art mixed with theater and music performances, literature, poetry, and film. An artistic and inspiring mixture of visual art and art in the form of the spoken word, the museum has since developed into one of the most popular museums in Paris, welcoming some 6 million visitors each year.
Le Centre Pompidou, the building that houses some of the most popular contemporary exhibitions in Paris was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. The iconic industrial design of the exterior is said to symbolize the spirit of the 20th century.
The atmosphere envisioned by Piano and Rogers is one of flow, despite the industrial and concrete concept that characterizes the design. The exterior of the building is decorated with exposed, colored ducts: blue for air, green for fluids, yellow for electricity, and red for movement and flow. The west side of the building is transparent, giving spectators in the outdoor plaza a glimpse of the activity inside.
Inside, le Centre is more than just an art museum that houses one of the most important contemporary collections in Europe. The space also serves as a gathering place for art lovers, scholars, and students. The museum not only holds enormous exhibition spaces, but a reference library for 20th century art which can hold up to 2,000 readers, a café and bookshop, a music research institute, and a number of open spaces that host educational activities, seminars, and public events for the arts community. The museum grants three annual scholarships to PhD students in the arts, demonstrating that its support for the arts is not merely aesthetic, but a support for the strong community that is fostered around a well-developed appreciation for art and culture.
Le Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is a Parisian cultural institution, where street performers, French mimes, and temporary carnivals attract curious onlookers when the weather is nice.
In the past, Le Centre Pompidou has hosted such artistic heavy weights as abstract painters Kandinsky and Pollack, famed Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch, Dali, the master surrealist, and the work of pop-culture icon, Andy Warhol.
Besides hosting some of the most famous fine art of the modern period, Le Centre Pompidou has also paid tribute to avant-garde artists in other mediums, such as contemporary concept artist Sophie Calle and legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard.
Hours of Operation
Le Centre Pompidou is open every day except Tuesday, from 11 am to 9 pm. Ticket prices vary depending on the number of exhibits you plan to see, but full price adult tickets are between 10 – 12 Euro with a generous discount for children, students, and the elderly.
Le Centre Pompidou is located in the 4th Arrondissement, between the sometimes seedy Les Halles neighborhood and the trendy, gay-friendly Marais district. The museum is easily reached via the Paris Metro. Take line 11 to Rambuteau or line 1 to Hotel de Ville to arrive just steps from the entrance. The museum is also just a few blocks from the Chatelet-Les Halles station, which services a number of metro lines as well as the regional RER lines.
Next door to the museum is another one worth exploring, the Museum of Jewish Art and History. Walk a few blocks northwest to explore the more intimate galleries of the Marais like the Passage de Retz and La Maison Rouge. Or take a 5 minute ride on the metro to explore the heart of Parisian tourism around the Louvre and the Tuilerie Gardens.