Centre Georges Pompidou. Museum in Paris, France

Centre Georges Pompidou

Museum in Paris, France

Le Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris) Photo © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

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Centre Georges Pompidou

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L'entrée du centre Georges Pompidou
	- Centre Georges Pompidou
L'entrée du centre Georges Pompidou - Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
Centre George Pompidou, or Centre Pompidou in short, is an easily recognizable and rather bizarre building in the Beaubourg area in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. The building’s exterior consists of colorful pipes, ducts, and frames. It looks like it has been turned inside out, which is technically true. The complex is named after Georges Pompidou, President of France between 1969 and 1974, who launched the idea of establishing a new cultural institution dedicated to modern art.

It houses the massive MNAM, which is one of the largest museums of modern art in the world and effectively, the largest in Europe. Centre Pompidou is not only about art though, but is a hub of culture in general. The complex also includes an enormous public library, a movie theater, a book store, a center for music and acoustics, and a panoramic terrace.


The first person to share his vision of a brand new multicultural institution in Paris was the first Minister of Cultural Affairs of France, André Malraux (Wikipedia Article). In 1960, it was decided to remove the food markets at Les Halles, which had long been a popular place among Parisians, to create space for the new cultural institute. The city planners and politicians wanted to make Paris a leading city of culture and art once again.

In 1968, President Charles de Gaulle announced the Beaubourg area as the site for a new library. His successor, George Pompidou, took over the project a year later and made it the site for both the new library and the museum of modern art. The construction of the building was met by a lot of opposition from residents, who didn’t want to have ‘an oil refinery’ in such an old and historic district. Construction continued anyway and when it opened in 1977, it became an immediate success.

Centre Pompidou was initially designed to receive up to 5,000 visitors per day, but it proved so popular that it had to be redesigned. Now, it welcomes about 25,000 people per day, making it one of the most popular attractions in Paris.

Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou -
	Centre Georges Pompidou
Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou - Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo by James Stringer


The winners of a 1971 design competition that attracted 650 entries were the architects Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano, and Gianfranco Franchini. They threw all architectural conventions out the window and designed a building with its skeleton on the outside. All functional elements such as elevators, water pipes, air conditioning, and tubes are located outside of the building and can be seen from the surrounding streets. All pipes and ducts all color-coded; the elevators are painted red, power lines are yellow, water pipes are green, air pipes are blue, corridors are grey, and the building itself is white.

Visiting Centre Georges Pompidou

Centre Pompidou is home to one of the world’s most important museums of contemporary art, the MNAM. With more than 60,000 works of art that cover both the 20th and 21st centuries, it holds the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe. The fourth floor of the building houses works dating from 1905 until 1965, and features art movements such as surrealism, cubism, fauvism, and abstract art as well as artist such as Miro, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Matisse. The building’s fifth floor is where art from 1965 until the present is located and displays movements such as pop-art and figurative art.

Rétrospective Jeff Koons au centre
	Georges Pompidou - Centre Georges Pompidou
Rétrospective Jeff Koons au centre Georges Pompidou - Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
Centre Pompidou’s first, second, and third floors are occupied by the enormous public library, the Public Information Library. The library holds a collection of no less than 450,000 books, 2,600 magazines, and numerous other media items. Additional cultural spaces in the building include a book store and a movie theater.

Place Beaubourg, the square located in front of the building, is a popular meeting place. It is always filled with people, painters, mime artists, jugglers, dancers, and other entertainers. Miniature carnivals are held there in spring, with bands, sketch artists, and evening dining.

Other attractions in the area is the Stravinsky Fountain (Wikipedia Article) on Place Stravinsky. It features sixteen moving sculptures designed after the works by composer, Igor Stravinsky (Wikipedia Article). It’s arguably the most famous modern fountain in Paris.

Centre Pompidou is open every day of the year, except on Tuesdays and on May 1, from 11AM until 10PM. Prices depend on whether you want to visit the modern art museum, catch a movie, enjoy the views from the top of the building, etcetera.

 - Centre Georges
Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo by unknown

How to Get There

Centre Pompidou is located in the heart of Paris and is easily accessed by subway. The nearest subway stations are Rambuteau on the M11 train and Hôtel de Ville on the M1 and M11 trains.

Similar Landmarks

There are several other world-class museums in Paris. The Louvre is the most famous, but Musée d’Orsay (Wikipedia Article) and the Petit Palais are worth visiting as well. Great art museums elsewhere in the world are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hermitage Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Rubens House.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 22, 2014

Pictures of Centre Georges Pompidou

Centre Georges Pompidou
Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo by unknown


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