“Forty years almost to the day after its inauguration, the Center Pompidou has become one of the emblematic monuments of French modernity and a must-see in Parisian cultural life, having recorded more than 100 million visitors since its opening on January 31 1977. "

Source: La Presse

"The center was born from the desire of Georges Pompidou, then President of the French Republic, to create in the heart of Paris an original cultural institution entirely devoted to modern and contemporary creation where the visual arts would be associated with books, design, music and cinema. "

Source: Wikipedia

Through the next activities, students will discover the characteristics of the Center Pompidou as well as the works exhibited there.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:

- Discover the Center Pompidou and the context in which it was created;
- Understand the controversy surrounding this establishment;
- Learn how the search engine works on the centre's website, which allows you to locate works in the museum;
- Locate other famous art museums in the world.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Discover the Center Pompidou

First, ask the students if they know what the Center Pompidou is. Show them this image and ask them about the visual appearance of this establishment. What does it look like? What could be its function?

Tell the students that this cultural center was inaugurated in Paris on January 31, 1977 and that it is therefore celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

In order to discover the Center Pompidou, invite the students to read the following article:
5 things to know about the Center Pompidou, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Then, question the students to check their understanding of the text.

- Who is the instigator of the project?
- How long did it take to build the center?
- What was the nickname of the center for a while?
- Why is the restaurant in the center called Georges?
- Which famous politician was a great defender of the Center Pompidou?
- Who is the artist who has attracted the most visitors since the center opened?

Finally, discover the context in which the project was born by consulting this section of Wikipedia.

ACTIVITY 2: An establishment causing controversy

At the time, the Center Pompidou was heavily criticized.

“The architecture of the center arouses a lively controversy: pipes, electric stairs, metal walkways, everything that is traditionally hidden is here ostensibly displayed for all to see. We nickname the center "Notre-Dame de la Tuyauterie", or "the Pompidolium".

Source: Wikipedia

Then read next article in order to understand the reactions and controversies that the opening of the Center Pompidou would arouse today.

Finally, as a whole class try to name other large-scale projects that were criticized during their construction (for example, the Videotron Center in Quebec or the McGill University Health Center in Montreal)

ACTIVITY 3: The works exhibited at the Center Pompidou

“Bringing together more than 100,000 works, the collections of the Center Pompidou (national museum of modern art - industrial creation center) constitute one of the first world reference sets for the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. "

Source: Centre Pompidou

Invite students to discover the Center Pompidou collections. To do this, ask them to research the museum's collections using the search engine available on the Center Pompidou website.

Before starting their research, explore as a whole class how the search engine works. Start with an easy search by entering only the name of an artist (ask them to list artists). Then, only look for one type of artwork such as sculptures. Finally, combine together a type of work and a movement.

Afterwards, let the students do their own research to find a work of their choice. Finally, they will have to do an analysis of the work.

Here are some avenues for analysis:

- The subject;
- Space;
- Colors;
- The light;
- The expression of the character (s);
- The relationship with the spectator;
- Etc.

For further

As a whole class, consult the list of art museums most visited in the world and locate them on Google Maps.

More about the magazine

Did you know that the colors of the Pompidou Center pipes have a meaning?
Huffingtonpost, January 31, 2017

40 years of the Center Pompidou: 15 pearls to discover (or rediscover) in the museum's collection
InterFrance, 1er february 2017

Is art still subversive?
RFI, 1er february 2017

Center Pompidou, 40 years in the open
Le Figaro, 1er february 2017

Centre Pompidou
Official site

Georges-Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture
Wikipedia article