The Pompidou Center (Centre Pompidou in French) is one of the most spectacular buildings of Paris. It was designed by architects Renzo Piano (from Italy) and Richard Rodgers (from the UK) to bring art and culture to the man in the street.
Its 1977 factory style architecture violently contrasts with the surrounding houses of Paris' oldest district near the Hotel de Ville. Whether you like or hate the Pompidou Center, you will not forget it with its glass facade, its external stairs and the red, blue and green external pipes on the rear facade.
In fact, the Pompidou Center has been a great success with its easily accessible public library, its art exhibitions and the French National Museum of Modern Art. The Museum has large collections of paintings spanning the 20th century and including works by the most famous artists (Picasso, Braque, Max Ernst, Magritte, Chagall, Matisse, Delaunay, Kandinsky, Klee and many others). You can see above a Kandinsky painting and below a Klee Painting from the Museum's collections
The Pompidou Center is divided into five floors : temporary exhibitions in the Grande Galerie on the fifth floor; Museum of Modern Art from 1905 to present time on third and fourth floors.
The public library covers three floors with books, DVDs, microfilm, and videos. A movie theater is located on 1st floor.
A ride on the escalators at the Pompidou Center is a must. As you go up, you will discover Paris as a horizontal skyline appears: the Sacre-Coeur, St. Eustache, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Pantheon, the Tour St. Jacques, and La Defense. From the platform at the top you can look down on the chateau-style chimneys of the Hotel de Ville, with their flowerpots sprouting over the lower rooftops.
In front of the center, there are always the street performers, jugglers, musicians, fire-eaters, and other miscellaneous performers capturing the attention of the crowd as they stroll by. There is also the clanking gold Defenseur du Temps clock in the Quartier de l'Horloge. The colorful sculptures and fountains by Tinguely and Nicky de St. Phalle in the pool are located in front of Eglise St. Merri. This waterwork pays homage to Stravinsky and shows scant respect for passers-by; it is the ceiling for IRCAM, the center for contemporary music founded and directed by the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez. A new, overground extension to IRCAM appears, squeezed beside the old public baths on rue St. Merri.
Admission to the center is free, but there are admission charges for the exhibitions and art museum.