The “in distress” Pompidou Center will close for four-year renovation starting in 2023

Facelift For Its 50th

The “in distress” Pompidou Center will close for four-year renovation starting in 2023

Temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19, the Pompidou Center will close again in 2023 so that much-needed renovation work can commence. (Adora Goodenough/Unsplash)

It’s official: Paris’s iconic “inside” cultural complex, Centre Georges Pompidou, will completely close to the public toward the end of 2023 to allow for an expansive, top-to-bottom renovation project costing roughly $243 million. The pointedly industrial-looking postmodernist Parisian landmark, which houses a sprawling library and music research center in addition to the famed Musée National d’Art Moderne, is slated to reopen in 2027 following the much-needed multiyear refresh. The reopening is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the building’s 1977 debut.

In September, Serge Lasvignes, president of the Pompidou, stressed to French newspaper Le Figaro that the structure—designed by Renzo Piano and the recently retired Richard Rogers—is in dire need of upgrades and repairs that necessitate either a full closure or a potentially more complicated partial closure that would stretch on for a longer amount of time.

“There are two hypotheses: either we do [the refurbishment] by closing it completely and it will last three years.[Or] we stay open and it will last seven years. But this poses additional problems, including that of asbestos removal,” “Lasvignes explained to Le Figaro in September.

It’s now clear that the French government, which is overseeing the restorative overhaul, has settled with the former option. “I chose the second because it should be shorter and a little bit less expensive,” the New York Times reported French culture minister Roselyne Bachelot as telling Le Figaro.

“We no longer have a choice,added Lasvignes. “The building is in distress.” 

“These works are a guarantee for the future of the Centre Pompidou, elaborated Lasvignes in an official statement released by the Pompidou. “It is about preserving our first masterpiece—the building—which hasn’t had any significant renovation since 1977.”

While the Pompidou Center hasn’t undergone any “significant”— to quote Lasvignes—renovations since its opening, this isn’t to say it hasn’t been closed in the past for major refurbishments before. In the late 1990s, the complex was closed to the public for nearly three years for an overhaul that entailed expanding the highly trafficked modern art museum’s exhibition space and improving visitor circulation and accessibility (much to the chagrin of tourists who had become accustomed to frequenting the observation terrace without gaining admission to the museum first).

As mentioned, the upcoming closure will involve removing asbestos from throughout the building’s facade as well as replacing aging and inefficient HVAC systems, repairing floors, upgrading fire-safety systems, modernizing plumbing, and further improving accessibility. The building’s elevators and famous exterior escalators will also be upgraded or replaced. Per the Pompidou, the renovation master plan “responds to technical, security, sustainable development, and image challenges.”

Lasvignes stressed in the official announcement that the closure “will not mean stopping our mission” and that arts programming will continue digitally and at satellite locations throughout the duration of the work.

While the Pompidou Center reopened in July following a months-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, it temporarily closed again in late October as part of a national lockdown ordered by French President Emmanuel Macron in response to a spike in infections across the country. A new reopening date has not been announced.