It was 1977… the opening of the Center Pompidou in Paris

It was 1977… the opening of the Center Pompidou in Paris

The Center Pompidou, one of the most important cultural sites in Paris, will close its doors for five years from 2025 for extensive renovation work.

History of the Center Pompidou: since 1977 an emblematic place of contemporary art

The Center Pompidou, also called Center national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou or simply “Beaubourg”, was inaugurated on January 31, 1977 in Paris.

As early as 1969, Georges Pompidou, now President of the Republic, had the idea of ​​creating a center that would bring together contemporary art, cinema, music, books, etc.:

« I fervently wish that Paris could have a cultural center such as we have tried to create in the United States with unequal success, which would be both a museum and a center of creation, where the visual arts go hand in hand with music and Cinema , books, audio visual research etc. The museum can only be modern art as we have the Louvre. The creation would of course be modern and would be constantly evolving. The library would attract thousands of readers who would be exposed to the art at the same time. »

It will be in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, on the Beaubourg plateau (destroyed in the interwar period), in what was then a popular and unhealthy neighborhood between the old Halles de Paris and the Marais district. In 1971 an architectural competition was announced, which Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers won. The center was designed by these two architects in collaboration with British engineer Peter Rice.

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The creation of the Center Pompidou will cause many controversies (architectural choice with its colored tubes, pedestrian bridges, outdoor escalators, etc.). In short, a despised centre, an architectural audacity that might displease those who have not hesitated to nickname the center “ Our Lady of the Pipes », to qualify it as mistake of the century », « the shame of France ».

And yet the day of the inauguration, with 25,000 people present, was a real success: on January 31, 1977, the President of the Republic, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, inaugurated this new art and culture center desired by his predecessor. Georges Pompidou.

Today, the Center Pompidou has established itself as one of the great museums in Paris. His fame is international. The Center Pompidou managed to impose its innovative design, which exposes the structure of the building and reveals stairs, elevators, pipes and ducts from the outside. The center houses an important collection of modern and contemporary art as well as the Public Information Library, a large public library specializing in the humanities and social sciences. Since its opening, the Center Pompidou has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris and a major cultural center worldwide. It has hosted many prestigious exhibitions, conferences, concerts and cultural events.

Closure of the Center Pompidou: The reasons and plans for the future of the Paris monument

At the end of 1997, the Center Pompidou underwent a first renovation (27 months of work and reopening on January 1st).Is January 2000). Now the time has come for a second planned renovation of the center. A closure for 2023 (from 2023 to 2027) was first announced on January 26, 2021 by then Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot. Finally postponed, after the 2024 Olympic Games… This Wednesday, May 10th, the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, has just announced the decision to close the Center Pompidou for a period of five years from 2025. This complete closure is due to the building’s dilapidated condition, which requires a complete renovation. The renovation project is based on the fundamentals of the center:

« its DNA, multidisciplinarity, hospitality, youth, plus environmental responsibility. »

Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak explained that two options would be considered for the renovation of the Center Pompidou: a partial restoration while keeping it open, or a complete closure. The decision was made to close the center entirely for five years because it would be less time-consuming and less costly, she said. In fact, after 45 years of existence, the building suffers from structural problems and previous renovations have not solved these problems.

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For the minister:

« We no longer have a choice, the building is suffering. »

It is :

« Carry out the complete asbestos removal of the building and completely renovate it to meet current safety, technical and energy standards and accessibility requirements for the disabled. »

The budget for the work is 262 million euros. During the closure, none of the center’s 1,009 employees will be made redundant. Each will be associated with the missions outside the walls that take place during the works.

And a reopening for 2030, so…

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