Museum Georges Pompidou

Here’s where you’ll find the second-largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the world, with masterpieces from all over the globe.

The National Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), in the 4th arrondissement, has more than 60,000 works of art from 1905 to the present day. It holds one of Europe’s most important collections of modern masterpieces, representing the artistic movements of fauvism, cubism, surrealism and abstract expressionism. 

The museum is also an attraction for where it is, inside the architecturally intriguing Pompidou Centre, located at the Place Beaubourg square, in the district of the same name. There are often mimes, music and other free entertainment in this popular square.

In contrast to the Louvre’s historical stone façade, the Pompidou Centre, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rodgers, is a postmodern landmark of steel and glass. It was initially met with criticism when it opened in 1977. Parisians were unimpressed by the building’s industrial, “inside-out” appearance. Its utilities, like escalators, water pipes and air-conditioning, are all color-coded and put on the outside of the building to free up space inside. Today the Pompidou Centre is symbolic of this cultural center’s willingness to embrace the new. 

The library occupies the first three floors of the Pompidou Centre, and MOMA’s exhibits are on the fourth and fifth floor. Go to the fifth floor for works from 1905 to 1965 (the modern era), including artists such as Matisse, Dali, Miro, Kandinsky, Picasso and Pollock. On the fourth floor you’ll find pieces from the mid-‘60s up to present day (the contemporary era). Temporary exhibitions, about 30 a year, play a major part in the museum’s schedule. Only 850 or so pieces from the permanent collection are ever on display and are rotated every six months.

Gems of the permanent collection include 65 Picasso works, making MOMA a great alternative—or companion visit—to the National Picasso Museum, also in Paris. There is an extensive archive of Man Ray’s contact prints and negatives, some of which reveal never-before-published photos taken by the legendary photographer.

As well as a dedicated gallery space for children, the Pompidou Centre houses a public library, and IRCAM, a center for music and acoustic research, a cinema, several performance halls and panoramic views of the city from the sixth floor. 

The National Museum of Modern Art is near major bus, train, and subway stations. Admission is free for permanent exhibits, and there’s a small fee for temporary exhibits. There’s a bookshop as well as a café that offers a variety of light menu items.  The museum is open every day, except Tuesdays and May 1.

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