NileGuide Expert Says:
Is this the worst of the 1970s, or the best? It’s impossible not to have a strong reaction to Piano and Rogers’ inside-out building
Place Georges-Pompidou, Paris, France
01 44 78 12 33
NileGuide Expert tip:
Ride the see-through escalators for a different panorama of the city from the top floor
Named for the president who commissioned it, Paris's home for contemporary art is more offbeat than some of the works inside it. When it opened in 1977, the French public were shocked at the way the architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers had plonked a modern glass-box gallery in one of the oldest parts of the city. To many, the blue, green, red and yellow pipes wrapped around the outside of the building and the transparent escalators were more suited to a theme park than Europe's leading museum of contemporary art. The building, often just called "Beaubourg", hasn't aged well, but with 6 million visitors a year to its exhibitions, cinemas, restaurants and cafés, the creative buzz continues. As well as special exhibitions, you'll find a permanent chronological display of the main trends in art from 1905 to the present and (below the courtyard) a reconstruction of the Paris studio of the master sculptor Brancusi.