Reopened in January 2000 in what was called in the 1970s "the most avant-garde building in the world," the restored Centre Pompidou is packing in the art-loving crowds again. The dream of former president Georges Pompidou, this center for 20th- and 21st-century art, designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, opened in 1977 and quickly became the focus of controversy. Its bold exoskeletal architecture and the brightly painted pipes and ducts crisscrossing its transparent facade (green for water, red for heat, blue for air, and yellow for electricity) were jarring in the old Beaubourg neighborhood. Perhaps the detractors were right all along -- within 20 years, the building began to deteriorate so badly that a major restoration was necessary. The renovation added 450 sq. m (4,844 sq. ft.) of exhibit space and a rooftop restaurant, a cafe, and a boutique; in addition, a series of auditoriums were created for film screenings and dance, theater, and musical performances. Access for visitors with disabilities has also been improved.
The Centre Pompidou encompasses five attractions:
Musée National d'Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art) has a large collection of 20th- and 21st-century art. With some 40,000 works, this is the big attraction, though only about 850 works can be displayed at one time. If you want to view some real charmers, seek out Calder's 1926 Josephine Baker, one of his earlier versions of the mobile, an art form he invented. You'll also find two examples of Duchamps's series of dada-style sculptures he invented in 1936: Boîte en Valise (1941) and Boîte en Valise (1968). And every time we visit, we have to see Dalí's Hallucination partielle: Six images de Lénine sur un piano (1931), with Lenin dancing on a piano.
In the Bibliothèque Information Publique (Public Information Library), people have free access to a million French and foreign books, periodicals, films, records, slides, and microfilms in nearly every area of knowledge. The Centre de Création Industriel (Center for Industrial Design) emphasizes the contributions made in the fields of architecture, visual communications, publishing, and community planning; and the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique (Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics/Music) brings together musicians and composers interested in furthering the cause of contemporary and traditional music. Finally, you can visit a re-creation of the Jazz Age studio of Romanian sculptor Brancusi, the Atelier Brancusi, a minimuseum slightly separated from the rest of the action. Open Wednesday to Monday 2 to 6pm.
The museum's forecourt is a free "entertainment center" featuring mimes, fire-eaters, circus performers, and sometimes musicians. Don't miss the nearby Stravinsky fountain, containing mobile sculptures by Tinguely and Saint Phalle.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010