The newly appointed president of the Centre Pompidou, Laurent Le Bon, says that the Paris gallery will close for extensive renovations after the Olympic Games which will be held in the French capital during the summer of 2024.
The initial restoration plan involved shutting down the Centre Pompidou for three years from the end of 2023 for essential maintenance work. Serge Lasvignes, the former president of the Centre Pompidou, explained that the renovations were needed due to corrosion, and wear and tear affecting the building. The work will involve removing all of the asbestos in the building, meeting safety, technical and energy standards and making the landmark venue accessible for people with reduced mobility.
Le Bon told the French newspaper Le Figaro, however: “The three-year deadline estimated for this work seems difficult to meet. It is a 120,000 sq. m asbestos removal site. I suggested that the government takes time to reflect, so as not to miss this historic opportunity [the Olympics]… I therefore suggested postponing the start of the work by a few months. This will allow us to be open during the Olympics; we will close afterwards.”
France’s national museum for Modern and contemporary art, designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 1977, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2027.
Le Bon declines to say however if the centre will be ready in time. “We should not miss the point here which is to create a new utopia… We are focused on the technical aspects of a huge and very complicated site in the heart of Paris... We have to be sure that, when we reopen the doors, we will have a new Centre Pompidou. An anniversary is an anniversary. On the other hand, we work for our children and our grandchildren,” he says.
Le Bon also quashes rumours about whether the Centre Pompidou will relocate to the Palais de Tokyo during the closure, stressing that the Bibliothèque publique d'information (public information library) housed at the gallery will not move elsewhere. “We are not going to close the Centre Pompidou to recreate a Centre Pompidou,” he adds. “Everything that is done at the Palais de Tokyo is fascinating, it must remain [this way]. If the future presidency of the Palais de Tokyo wishes [a new director is to be announced], we will be happy to collaborate with them. But the Centre Pompidou will not be installed at the Palais de Tokyo.”
Earlier this week, the centre revealed its international exhibition programme for the remainder of the year, highlighting shows at its satellite branch in Shanghai (Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum) such as Architectures de Grand Paris (1948-2020) and an exhibition of works by the Chinese photographer Chen Wei (11 November-22 February 2022). Meanwhile, Matisse: Life and Spirit, featuring masterpieces by the French artist drawn from the Pompidou's collection, is due to open at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney next month (20 November-13 March 2022).