The cultural and artistic Centre is named after Georges Pompidou, who was president of France from 1969 to 1974. Built in the old Beaubourg area of the city, it was opened on January 31, 1977. Designed by architects Rogers, Piano and Franchinihas, it is a unique architectural creation, now an icon of the Parisian landscape. All functional elements such as elevators, escalators, stairways, heating ducts form the building's exterior texture and are painted in bold primary colours. The interior space is 80,000 square feet and six storey's high.
The Centre Pompidou broke the mould with its "inside out" construction. The steel skeleton from which the floors are suspended, are visible from the outside, together with the giant external escalators, and the colour-coded service ducts on view both inside and out. Now that the appearance of these are no longer shocking, attention focuses on how they are done. Twenty years, on the escalator remains a phenomenon, and the plaza continues to thrive, but the exhibition spaces themselves, and the rather dry, regular block shape of the overall building, have lost some of their initial impact.
The plaza, a huge expanse of cobblestone is an opening in an otherwise dense urban area. The grade tilts gradually down toward the museum entrance. There is nowhere to sit, but crowds gather to watch street performers, to meet and chat, or wait for their friends. This lack of seating is a boon to the cafes that ring the area. Here is where you can just sit back, enjoy a drink, and just watch the world go by, as there is always something to look at, from fire eaters to jugglers, street singers and travelling mime artists.
The centre averages 25,000 visitors a day, many more than was initially predicted. The Centre has recently undergone substantial renovations and reorganization. The relocation of the administration to the opposite side of the street has enabled the Modern Art Museum to be doubled in size, also the Public Information Library now occupies three floors and has a separate entrance.
When you first see it, it seems so unreal and unfitting in the centre of Paris. A building made of glass, with lifts and air conditioning shafts sticking out on the sides. Yet it is a home to a huge collection of modern art. You can find paintings by Matisse, Chagall, Miro, Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky and many other famous name of the 20th century. It takes about 3 hours to see the main collection, plus there are also some exhibitions on the top floor which may require a further entrance fee.
The Centre Pompidou's success stems from its array of activities attracting not only one time tourists, but local Parisians to its complex. The building houses not only a collection of multi media, modern, and contemporary art, but is also a conference centre. There are several children's play areas, a public information library, a current affairs room, a replica of Brancusi's sculpture studio, which has its own entrance, two restaurants, and a Terrace with views of Paris and the crowded public square below.