Amidst its impressive architectural style, The Pompidou Centre (Le Centre Pompidou) houses the French National Museum of Modern Art. However, for years the building has been a main attraction in itself due to its revolutionary 1977 factory-style architecture that clashes with the houses of Paris’ oldest district surrounding it.
The Pompidou Centre was designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rodgers and is named after French president Georges Pompidou, who decided its creation.
Upon first glance, the centre is just a massive building with odd coloring and exterior elements that protrude over its design. Look a little closer and you’ll see why the Pompidou Centre breaks all architectural conventions: all stairs, water pipes, air conditioning ducts and escalators are on the outside of the building.
In fact, these protruding elements used to follow a color code: green, blue, yellow and red were used to identify water, air, electricity and heat-related devices respectively. Today, some of these splashes of color remain on the Pompidou Centre’s facade but most of them have been painted white in later renovations.
The main idea behind this unusual design was to free space inside the centre for the display of artworks. Today, the free space within the Pompidou Centre is put to good use, housing 4 main cultural attractions:
- The National Museum of Modern Art (Musée National d’Art Moderne), containing some 40,000 works of 20th and 21st century art. Only 850 can be displayed at the same time, so keep an eye out for superb works by Picasso, Braque, Magritte, Klee, Matisse and Kandinsky, among others.
- The Public Information Library (Bibliothèque Information Publique) that offers free access to millions of French and foreign books, records, films, slides, periodicals and microfilms.
- The Center of Industrial Design (Centre de Création Industriel) honoring important contributions made in the architectural, visual communication, publishing and community planning fields.
- The Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics-Music (Institut de Recherche et the Coordination Acoustique-Musique) where composers and musicians unite to further research on contemporary and traditional music.
With so much to do in just one place, it’s no wonder that the Pompidou Centre receives over 25,000 visitors a day. Still want more? Then make sure you don’t miss the extraordinary views of Paris seen from the Georges Café at the top floor!
And after a quick meal, step outside and experience yet another of the centre’s most popular attractions at the Beaubourg or Georges Pompidou Plaza (Place Georges Pompidou or Place Beaubourg), where mimes, street portraitists, jugglers and sometimes even skaters entertain the crowds gathered outside the Pompidou Centre. Plus, look out for the Stravinsky fountain (Fontaine des automates), a modern art piece in itself featuring kinetic sculptures by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, located just to the right of the Plaza.
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