Like every big city in the world, Paris too has a museum dedicated to modern art.It’s the Georges Pompidou center, more commonly referred to as the Beaubourg.Located between Les Halles and the Marais, it is easily recognizable due to its unapologetically modern architecture.
Georges Pompidou, then President of France, was the driving force behind the project. He wanted to create a cultural space that would be a crossroads between visual arts, books, design, music, and film. Opened in 1977, the Beaubourg is now one of the world’s 3 largest museums of modern and contemporary art, along with the MOMA in New York and the Tate Modern in London. It is also the 3rd most visited cultural center in Paris, after the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
A controversial project
At the time, the new building stirred great controversy.The extremely modern architecture did not go down well with Parisians: pipes going in all directions serving as a façade, the use of bright colors like blue, yellow, red, and green.The new project was offensive!The architects had chosen to expose, right on the façade, all the construction elements that are usually hidden within the walls of a building: pipes, stairwells, escalators (“escargot”) visible on the main façade), metal load-bearing structure (boldly placed on the outside).The building leaves nothing to the imagination about its functions.Conversely, the inside of the building (8 levels of 7,500 m2 each) is completely modular: they are free from the usual technical limitations.
Permanent collection and temporary exhibitions
Home to over 70,000 works, it features masterpieces by the masters of modern art, like Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse, Chagall, Léger, Miro, Dali, Dubuffet, Klein… As well as major artists from the contemporary art scene, like Buren, Boltanski, Opalka, Twombly, Hantaï, Tallon, Widmer, and Garouste.Additionally, there are many temporary exhibitions (about 25 a year) held there.These are dedicated major artists from the contemporary art scene, to the masters and founding movements in the history of 20th century art.
If you visit the Beaubourg, you should know that its stairways, thanks to their glass walls, offer one of the best views of the whole city.
Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou – 19 Rue Beaubourg, 75004 Paris