Lonely Planet review
The Pompidou Centre has amazed and delighted visitors ever since it opened in 1977, not just for its outstanding collection of modern art – the largest in Europe – but also for its radical architectural statement. The dynamic and vibrant arts centre delights with its irresistible cocktail of galleries and cutting-edge exhibitions, hands-on workshops, dance performances, cinemas and other entertainment venues. The exterior, with its street performers and fanciful fountains (place Igor Stravinsky), is a fun place to linger.
Former French President Georges Pompidou wanted an ultracontemporary artistic hub, and he got it: competition-winning architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers effectively designed the building inside out, with utilitarian features such as plumbing, pipes, air vents and electrical cables forming part of the external façade, freeing up the interior space for exhibitions and events. Paris’ premier cultural centre has amazed visitors since it was inaugurated in 1977.
The Musée National d’Art Moderne, France’s national collection of art dating from 1905 onward, is the main draw and is housed on the 4th and 5th floors. A fraction of the 100,000 pieces – including the work of fauvists, cubists, and surrealists as well as pop art and contemporary works – is on display.
The huge Bibliothèque Publique d’Information, entered from rue du Renard, takes up part of the 1st and the entire 2nd and 3rd floors. The 6th floor has two galleries for temporary exhibitions (generally excellent) and a hyperindustrial restaurant, Georges, with panoramic views of Paris, which is accessed by a free lift/elevator (look for the red door to the left of the main entrance).
Rooftop admission is included in museum and exhibition admission – or just buy a panorama ticket to go up to the roof.
Admission to the museum is free on the first Sunday of each month.
There are cinemas and more exhibition space on the ground floor and in the basement.
West of the centre, Place Georges Pompidou and the nearby pedestrian streets attract buskers, musicians, jugglers and mime artists. South of the centre on place Igor Stravinsky are fanciful mechanical fountains of skeletons, hearts, treble clefs and a big pair of ruby-red lips, created by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle.