The concept of placing all the typical infrastructure on the outside—with brightly painted pipes and ducts, color-coded by function, the escalator placed within a long, clear tube and a zigzag exoskeleton—was novel, creating a cavernous interior easily adaptable to all sorts of exhibits and displays. There’s no grand entrance but the sloping square in front has become an open-air theater for clowns, musicians, jugglers, artists and a diverse cross-section of locals and tourists.
There’s hardly a dull moment on this stage, and the Pompidou Center makes a fittingly bizarre backdrop so don’t hesitate to grab a snack or bring a picnic lunch and take in the show. One thing not to miss is the Stravinsky Fountain, just to the right of the Pompidou Center as you face the main entrance, with its mechanized sculptures and fountains designed by Jean Tinguely.
The fountain is behind the Eglise St. Merri, a beautiful cathedral built in the Flamboyant Gothic style whose west façade is worth a look.
Inside, the Pompidou Center hosts all sort of exhibitions, audio-visual and interactive activities as well as a library and industrial design center. Most importantly, the top floors of the center house the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris’s best modern art collection.
The Musée National d’Art Moderne hosts a powerful collection of paintings and sculpture dating from around 1905 to 1960 and takes the visitor through a veritable history of the major artistic movements of the 20th Century. Any –ism in the world of modern art can be found here—Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism—as well as works from the Dada, COBRA and Abstractionist movements.
You will also find numerous works from artists whose styles were unique to themselves, like Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, and Alberto Giacometti. The collection is so massive that only 3% or 4% of the works are shown at any time, and the museum lends works to museums and exhibitions around the world.
Details: If you are interested in modern and contemporary art and/or architecture, the Pompidou Center is the tip of the iceberg. Private Access Journeys’ knowledgeable local guide can create a tailor made itinerary that shows you the city’s most groundbreaking architecture and best collections of 20th century art.