On my first (and long-overdue) visit, I signed up for the Private Viewing and Walking Tour of Pompidou Centre in Paris for a new feature: visiting the museum before it even opens! This was far and away the most amazing thing I have ever done in Paris.
Imagine yourself walking through the expansive modern art museum in peace – just you, a small group and your tour guide – checking out the marvels of the museum and taking in every inch of it, without having to worry about craning your neck to get a view or accidentally bumping into a fellow museum visitor.
Walking through the museum and seeing “10 Lizes,” a Liz Taylor-inspired art piece by my favorite artist, Andy Warhol, really made my trip. I consider myself to be something of an expert on my favorite artist, but my guide was incredibly informative about every single piece of art in the museum, and told me things about Warhol I didn’t even know!
She was also a go-to resource on the museum’s neighborhood, clueing me in to to the best shopping spots, telling me where to get the best café au lait and where I could even buy an adapter for my American hair dryer.
The Centre Pompidouis nestled in Paris’ 4th arrondissement near Les Halles (pronounced, “lay’all”) and Le Marais. It is named after George Pompidou, the president of France from 1969-1974. The museum opened to the public in 1977, and has seen 150 million visitors since it first opened.
This museum is a vast space with open areas and art on the walls every where you turn. There are sculptures, paintings, video installations and more. There is no denying that this is one of the most original and fun museums in the world.The fun-factor is enhanced by the playground-like steps that you travel up to get into the museum. The steps are encased in a plastic bubble material, making you feel like you’re in a massive play land.
Once you are inside the museum, there are sweeping views of the Paris skyline at every turn. You can see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and other points of interest. There is also a terrace where you can take in the postcard-worthy skyline view of Paris at the very top.
The museum houses permanent collections from artists like Picasso, Dali and Matisse, as well as providing a constant rotation of new exhibitions. That is one of the reasons that this museum is so unique – you’re sure to see something new every visit. Current exhibitions that can be found in the museum through January and March 2012 include Green Attitude, Yayoi Kusama, The Blobterre of Matali and Edvard Munch.
For me, the allure of the Centre Pompidou always rested in what was in front of the museum, Place Georges Pompidou, not what was inside it. The sprawling cobblestone, slanted sidewalk plaza in front of the museum acts as a communal picnic blanket to Parisians and visitors alike. There, you will find people reading books, chatting, eating food and being entertained by the many street performers who are always there. It is a fun place to rest your feet.
I highly recommend visiting the Centre Pompidou in Paris. You won’t regret it!
- Anne McCarthy