The Centre Pompidou, inaugurated in 1977, is a modern art museum that’s often seen as a masterpiece of new-age architecture.
Most visitors wonder why the Centre Pompidou is famous.
It houses over 100,000 pieces of art, including the Musée National d’Art Moderne, making it a kind of shrine for modern art.
The museum is known worldwide for its exhibitions, dance performances, cinemas, and artifacts.
Whether or not you’re into art, it’s a must-visit place because of its high-tech architecture and stunning visual appeal.
Why Should You Visit Centre Pompidou
You should visit Centre Pompidou because this vibrant building revolutionized museum architecture, challenging the notion that museums should merely house masterpieces.
Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano designed the building in the 1970s.
Its colorful, ultramodern design is unforgettable, resembling a blend of a hamster maze and a warehouse.
You can explore the most extensive collection of modern art in Paris inside, featuring renowned works by Picasso, Duchamp, and Miró and pieces from 5,000 other artists.
Spanning 5 acres, the museum showcases over 50,000 works, offering a journey through Cubism, Surrealism, Fauvism, and Abstract Expressionism.
Centre Pompidou houses a quirky masterpiece – Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain,” a urinal turned artwork, and it’s one of Lonely Planet’s best bathrooms.
Beyond classic Parisian art, it displays the city’s thriving contemporary scene through its architecture, galleries, fashion, and extraordinary collection of modern art.
Visiting Centre Pompidou is an enriching journey as it helps you see a different side of artistic Paris.
History of Centre Pompidou
The Centre Pompidou started as an innovative architectural project in the 1970s and opened its doors in 1977.
It represented former French President Georges Pompidou’s commitment to new ideas and fields like art, performance, film, and literature.
The building caught much attention worldwide due to its colorful exterior, high-tech features, and design that not everyone liked.
It was the first big example of “inside-out” architecture, where you could see the structure and systems on the outside.
Despite its controversial looks, it became one of Europe and the world’s most visited cultural landmarks.
Georges Pompidou was the driving force behind the project, but he didn’t live to see it open.
The architectural design competition for the center had 681 submissions, and the winners were two lesser-known architects, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano.
Their design was seen as unusual because it showed things like scaffolding and pipes on the outside of the building.
Interesting facts about Centre Pompidou
- The Centre Pompidou has a super unique inside-out design, with pipes and structures painted in bright colors on the outside.
- Beyond being an art museum, it is a significant cultural center, housing a large library, a music and acoustics research center, and more.
- Named after Georges Pompidou, a former French president with a vision for a modern art cultural center in Paris.
- Inside, there’s an extensive public library with over 400,000 books, making it a haven for book enthusiasts.
- The top floor offers breathtaking views of Paris, including an impressive sight of the Eiffel Tower.
- Renowned architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers are behind the groundbreaking design.
- The center’s high-tech architectural style was considered revolutionary during its construction.
- Over approximately 3.5 million visitors annually come to see the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
- The museum houses one of the world’s largest modern and contemporary art collections.
- Exterior pipes are color-coded for easy identification: green for plumbing, blue for air, yellow for electricity, and red for circulation elements.
- It hosts various cultural events, including movie screenings, concerts, and lectures.
- Centre Pompidou arranges engaging workshops for children to foster creativity and art appreciation.
- Adjacent to the center is the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain featuring playful sculptures.
- The building incorporates external shading to control heat and light.
- Its design has inspired other high-tech buildings worldwide.
- The unique design sparked public discussion and controversy upon its initial opening.
- Known for democratizing art, making it accessible to a broader audience, not just the elite.
- Boasting a massive multimedia collection, including films, music, and more.
- It has become an icon of 20th-century architecture.
Things to See in Centre Pompidou
The Musée National d’Art Moderne, France’s national art collection from 1905 onward, is the main attraction at Centre Pompidou.
It holds over 100,000 pieces featuring Fauvist, cubist, surrealist, pop art, and contemporary works, mainly showcased on the 4th and 5th floors.
The permanent collection rotates every two years, but the basic layout remains consistent.
On the 5th floor, you’ll find artworks from 1905 to around 1970, with pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Kandinsky, Arbus, Warhol, Pollock, and Rothko.
Moving to the 4th floor, the focus shifts to more contemporary creations from the 1990s onward.
Monumental paintings, installations, sculptures, and videos take center stage, emphasizing contemporary art, architecture, and design.
Accessible from rue du Renard, the vast Bibliothèque Publique d’Information (public library) occupies part of the 1st and entire 2nd and 3rd floors.
The 6th floor hosts two galleries for temporary exhibitions and the restaurant Georges, offering sweeping views of Paris.
The ground floor and basement house cinemas and additional exhibition space.
To the west of the center, Georges Pompidou attracts performers like buskers, musicians, jugglers, and mime artists.
There are whimsical mechanical fountains South of the center, featuring skeletons, hearts, treble clefs, and a pair of ruby-red lips created by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle.
The Galerie des Enfants is located on the 1st floor.
It is open from 11 am to 7 pm from Wednesday to Monday.
This exhibition area is designed for children aged two to ten.
It encourages interactive experimentation and offers various workshops on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Studio 13/16 is situated on the lower ground floor.
It is open from 2 pm to 6 pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
This space is tailored for teenagers aged 13 to 16.
It provides visual, multimedia, and performing art kits and opportunities to meet artists.
Is Centre Pompidou Worth a Visit
Whether the Centre Pompidou in Paris is worth visiting depends entirely on your personal interests and preferences.
But we recommend you visit it at least once because the Centre Pompidou houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne.
This section has over 40,000 works by Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Warhol, and many more.
If you’re an art enthusiast, this is a must-see.
The building itself is a landmark, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in a bold, avant-garde style.
The exposed pipes and ducts on the exterior make it instantly recognizable, offering stunning city views from the top floors.
The Centre Pompidou also houses a public library, a cinema, and a performance space.
There’s always something happening, so you can easily spend a whole day exploring everything it offers.
The Centre Pompidou is in the heart of Paris, near the Louvre and the Marais district.
This makes it easy to combine your visit with other sightseeing and activities.