World famous Pompidou Centre to close for renovations

The Pompidou Centre, one of Paris’s top cultural attractions and home to Europe’s biggest modern art collection, is to close from 2023 for four years of renovations, France’s culture minister Roselyne Bachelot announced on Monday.

Designed by star architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Pompidou Centre opened in 1977 and is showing visible signs of ageing. “There were two options,” Bachelot told the Figaro newspaper. “One involved renovating the centre while keeping it open, the other was closing it completely. “I chose the second because it should be shorter and a little bit less expensive,” she added.

The Pompidou houses France's National Museum of Modern Art, an exceptional collection of 120,000 works including masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp and Joan Miro, AFP noted. As well as being the biggest contemporary art collection in Europe, it is the second largest in the world after MoMA in New York.

Named after former French president Georges Pompidou it was meant to be a meeting point for the arts, music, literature and film. The Pompidou Centre ranks after the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower as the French capital's third most visited site. Its vast and hugely popular public library spread over three storeys contains 360,000 titles, spanning literature to science, history to philosophy. It also has vast exhibition spaces, cinemas, auditoriums, and a music research institute. The Pompidou Centre also has satellite museums in the Spanish city of Malaga and the Belgian capital Brussels.

While its revolutionary design is now celebrated, it was hugely controversial at the time and even the subject of several lawsuits.

For its young architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, who met in the revolutionary year of 1968, the Pompidou represented a "joyful urban machine".

Unknowns at the time, they went on separately to design some of the world's most iconic buildings. The third member of the team, Peter Rice, often called "the James Joyce of structural engineering", also worked on the Sydney Opera House, the Louvre Pyramid and London's Stansted Airport.

Like all cultural attractions in Paris, the Pompidou Centre closed from March-June last year during the first wave of the global coronavirus pandemic and has been shuttered again since late October. A total of 3.2m people visited the museum in 2019 before the onset of the coronavirus health crisis.

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