Centre Pompidou houses the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the largest and most important museum of modern art in Europe, and one of the most renowned in the world.
It is also houses a vast public library and IRCAM – a center for music and acoustic research.
The decision to build the Georges Pompidou National Art and Culture Centre was made in December of 1969 by Georges Pompidou, then President of the French Republic.
An architectural competition was announced, the first of its kind in France to be open to architects
the whole world over: it attracted 681 competitors from 49 different countries.
Centre Pompidou was designed in the style of high-tech architecture by the architectural team of
Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini.
Construction work started in April 1972 and work on the metal framework was begun in September 1974. On February 2nd 1977, the Centre Pompidou opened its doors to the public.
The building has a length of 166 meters (545 feet), width of 60 meters (197 feet) and height of 42 meters (138 feet) – [Rue Beaubourg side] and 45.5 meters (149 feet) – [Piazza side].
Totally, the building covers 2 hectares (5 acres) with a floor space of 103,305 square meters (1,112,000 square feet).
The building has 7 above-ground floors of steel and glass, as well as 3 underground floors that house the equipment rooms and service areas. There is a distance of 7 meters (23 feet) between each floor.
To maximize internal space, architects turned the construction inside-out and exposed a skeleton of brightly colored tubes for mechanical systems. The ducts on the outside of the building are color-coded: blue for for circulating air (air conditioning), green for fluids, yellow for electricity cables and red for movement and flow (elevators, stairs) and safety (fire extinguishers).
Over 15,000 tonnes of steel were used in the construction, including a network of ten-tonne gerberettes that define the building’s outward-facing appearance.
Its facades and glass surfaces consists of 11,000 square meters (118,400 square feet) of glass.
With over 100,000 works, the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne make up one of the world’s leading references for art of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is the second largest collection of contemporary art in the world, after the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
These works include painting, sculpture, drawing, print, photography, cinema, new media, architecture, and design.
Part of the collection is exhibited in the halls on the 4th and 5th floors. Temporary exhibitions of contemporary art are also held on the 6th floor. The exhibits changes frequently, to show better the variety of the collection. Here you can see the works of such authors as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, Rene Magritte, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malevich, Anri Matisse.
The library in Centre Pompidou actually has two libraries; first the Public Information Library,
accessible to the public, and free of charge; and second, the Kandinsky library, which focuses on the
research and documentation relating to modern art.
The Public Information Library has a collection of almost 500,000 books and can easily accommodate 2,000 readers.
IRCAM is one of the world’s largest public research center dedicated to both musical expression and
scientific research. It is a unique location where artistic sensibilities collide with scientific and
The visitor numbers have multiplied by 5 from what the building was originally meant to accommodate;
from 5,000 to 25,000 per day.
Its popularity made it necessary to close the site for 27 months, starting in October of 1997, in order
to renovate and expand the public areas.
The sculpture Horizontal by Alexander Calder, a free-standing mobile that is 7.6 metrs (25 feet) tall, was placed in front of the Centre Pompidou in 2012.
The Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is noted for the presence of street performers, such as mimes and jugglers.
In the spring, miniature carnivals are installed temporarily into the place in front with a wide
variety of attractions: bands, caricature and sketch artists, tables set up for evening dining, and
even skateboarding competitions.
National Geographic described the reaction to the design as “love at second sight”.
This building can be considered as one of the symbols of 20th century’s architecture.
Many French people didn’t (and still don’t) like the appearance of the building and compare it to a
boiler house or an oil refinery.
It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building.
A fifth floor room of the building featured as the office of Holly Goodhead in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which in the film was scripted as being part of the space station of the villainous Hugo Drax.