Pompidou Centre in Paris, "Notre-Dame of the Pipes", to close for 4-year refit

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The Pompidou Centre, one of Paris’s main cultural landmarks and home to the biggest modern art collection in Europe, will be completely closed from 2023 for four years of renovations, France’s culture minister has said.

Designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Pompidou Centre is renowned for its groundbreaking design with all the inner workings of the museum on the outside.

What was radical in 1977, when the museum opened, is now showing signs of ageing.

“There were two options,” culture minister Roselyne Bachelot told the Figaro newspaper on Monday. “One involved renovating the centre while keeping it open, the other was closing it completely.

“I chose the second because it should be shorter and a little bit less expensive,” she added.

Filmmaker Hugues Charbonneau tweeted it was "idiotic" to close during the 2024 Olympics, hosted by Paris.

Like all cultural attractions in Paris, the Pompidou Centre closed from March to June last year during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and has been shuttered again since late October.

It was last closed for an 88 million refit between 1998 and 2000.

The Gasworks

The building’s radical design pushes almost all its structural and mechanical elements to the exterior, freeing up vast exhibition spaces on the inside.

The maze of blue air-conditioning conduits, green water pipes, red lifts and yellow electrical casings are visible but that means they are permanently exposed to the elements.

The bold project in the historic heart of the French capital faced heavy opposition when it was first proposed in the 1970s, and was subject to several lawsuits.

When it opened in 1977, Le Monde called it “an architectural King Kong” while others called it "The Gasworks" and "Notre-Dame of the Pipes". While it continues to divide opinion, it has become a real landmark and tourist attraction.

A total of 3.2 million people visited the museum in 2019 before the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

The Pompidou houses France's National Museum of Modern Art, and has an exceptional collection of some 120,000 works including masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp and Joan Miro.

Only 5 percent, however, are on display at any one time.

(with AFP)