Many cultural touchstones shuttered their doors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: Broadway is dark, for starters, and New York City doesn’t feel the same. Café culture in Paris has ground to a halt, not to mention the hundreds of museums, and the City of Light feels dampened. Parisians are waiting with bated breath for their favorite spots to reopen, with museum directors even petitioning President Macron recently to allow cultural institutions to reopen. “L’art, au même titre que la santé, participe à soigner l’âme humaine,” they wrote. (“Art, as well as health, helps heal the human soul.”)
So imagine the general surprise to learn that the Centre Pompidou, after this temporary pandemic closure, will be closing for a longer period in 2023 to undergo a large renovation project. Though the museum needs to be upgraded, locals think a full closure is a “catastrophe.” So another petition is now circulating.
Nestled in the 4th arrondissement, near the Marais district and Les Halles, the Centre Pompidou is one of the most important modern and contemporary art museums in the world. It is also one of the most architecturally unique venues in Paris, home to stunning works by Warhol, Picasso, Rothko, Man Ray, and more. Built in the 1970s – and named after the president of France, Georges Pompidou, who commissioned it – the Centre Pompidou was designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. It typically sees around 3 million visitors annually from all over the world who come to marvel at its collection.
Here’s what you need to know about the Centre Pompidou’s closure.
1. It’s Only Temporary!
We can all breathe a massive sigh of relief because this closure is thankfully not a permanent one. The Centre Pompidou will be closed from the end of 2023 to the end of 2026. While the art won’t be moved, the library will; the books will move to a temporary location so researchers and book lovers can breathe a big sigh of relief on that front.
2. It’s Going to Get a Beautiful Makeover
Sometimes, even museums need self-care, too. The museum, which hasn’t had any renovation since 1977, is getting a structural overhaul to bring even more beauty and awe to Paris. The Centre Pompidou, an “icon of modernity,” is delightfully distinct; its exterior includes a covered red staircase from the base of the museum to the top, and colorful piping gives a whimsical feel. The makeover will consist of repairing paintwork and flooring. It will also address safety standards, including the removal of asbestos, and make the museum more accessible to people who have disabilities.
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3. Pompidou is Preparing for its 50th Birthday
The Centre Pompidou turns 50 years old in 2027, and it needs to be kept in tip-top shape. In a statement about the closures, the museum’s president, Serge Lasvignes, said, “This will guarantee the future of the Centre Pompidou…[the refurbishment will be a] visionary, utopian project, unmatched by any other in the world.” Grand statements like these ones certainly excite the imagination, wondering what the Pompidou will look like come 2026.
4. The Full Closure Will Speed it Up
“Where focus goes, energy flows,” as the saying goes. There was talk of closing the museum only partially so that tourists and Parisians alike could still enjoy the artistic fruits of the museum. However, a piecemeal refurbishment meant that it would take longer. Instead, the full closure will allow the work to be executed more efficiently and more quickly.
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5. It Ain’t Cheap
The renovation will cost a cool 200 million euros. For priceless works of art, they need an equally opulent home, I suppose. It remains to be seen as to whether or not the building upgrade will increase the price of admission to the museum, which currently ranges €11–€15, but I’d put money on it that the price will rise as a result.
Even if that comes to pass, I don’t think it’ll slow the Pompidou’s admission numbers. And come 2026, we will hopefully be living in a post-pandemic world with bustling Parisian cafes, museums with their doors flung wide open, sold-out Broadway shows debuting, and a City of Light renewed, once more, with life.
Lead photo credit : Centre Pompidou. Photo credit © Pxhere