Pompidou Center continues its expansion with two new outposts planned for Seoul and Saudi Arabia

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Pompidou Center continues its expansion with two new outposts planned for Seoul and Saudi Arabia

Centre Pompidou will open a location within Seoul’s Tower 63 building. (Photo Atrium/Shutterstock)

Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Center opened in Paris in 1977 as a shining example of “inside-out” and “high-tech” architecture. Since then, the art museum has expanded globally. Today it operates locations in Málaga, Spain; Brussels; and recently in Shanghai, with an understated design from 2023 Pritzker Prize–winner David Chipperfield. Its first stateside location in Jersey City’s Journal Square will open in 2025 with a renovation led by OMA New York.

Earlier this month, the institution announced its plans to open two more outposts: in Seoul and Saudi Arabia.

Pompidou Center shared that it had signed a partnership agreement with the Hanwha Cultural Foundation in Korea and the Royal Commission for AlUla in Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for “development of a contemporary art museum” in the respective countries.

The agreement for the Seoul outpost was signed by the President of the Hanwha Culture Foundation Shin Hyunwoo and President of the Pompidou Center Laurent Le Bon. Pompidou Center shared that the forthcoming museum will be located in Tower 63, the headquarters for the Hanwha Group. Tower 63, designed by architects Harry D. Som and Helen W. Som, opened in 1985. While no longer the tallest building in the Korean city, its flashy gold exterior stands out from the city’s the skyline.

Tower 63 is primarily an office building housing corporate suites for financial and insurance companies. It already has made a name for itself in the art and entertainment world as its top floor contains an art gallery, and an IMAX theater, restaurant, and aquarium also located within. The Pompidou shared that the renovated gallery and exhibition space will be designed by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose portfolio incudes projects at the Louvre Museum and the British Museum.

As detailed in a press release, the partnership plans for four years of programming in which eight “monographic exhibitions” will be staged using works from the Pompidou Center collection.

Hanwha said it plans to begin construction on the museum this year. If all goes according to plan, it will open in 2025.

Fewer details were provided about the Saudi Arabia location. The announcement stated that the agreement was signed by Le Bon; Nora Aldabal the Executive Director of Arts AlUla in presence of H.H. Prince Badr bin Farhan Al Saud, the Saudi Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU; and French Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak.

It continued with an outline of the project’s goals: “This partnership aims to support the enhancement and development of the cultural, artistic and creative aspects of the AlUla site. The Pompidou Center will contribute its scientific and technical expertise in the training of staff, particularly in the areas of conservation management of collections and mediation. It may also provide support for the organisation of cultural and event programming.”

An opening date, location, and design details have not been announced.

In the meantime, progress is underway to realize the Pompidou Center’s first North American outpost. Last month, eight officials from Jersey City met with individuals from the Pompidou Center in Paris to discuss the project. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed 2024 state budget included a line item allocating  $12 million for the forthcoming museum, which follows a $24 million appropriation in 2022. The museum will occupy the Pathside Building, a former trolley station compound dating back to 1912, within a design delivered by OMA New York.