Pompidou: Colombia is an option

It opened its doors around 40 years ago. It responded to the premonitory dream of the french President Georges Pompidou. "I want to erect a cultural center that brings together both a museum and a place of creation, in which the plastic arts are mixed with music, films and books," he said before he died. The current president of the Pompidou Center, Serge Lasvignes (Toulouse, 1954), still remembers his first visit. "I found it to be a totally exotic place, out of a movie. It gave off a strange, almost disturbing freedom, which was not only novel, but was opposed to any model known, "he explains.

Pompidou never would have imagined that, 40 years later, his museum would create school and would even have descendants. One of the museum's future challenges is to export the Pompidou brand outside the French borders. After the pilot exercise in the ephemeral headquarters of Malaga, which Lasvignes describes as a "successful experiment", the center last opened other branches abroad. One of them could open in Latin America. "It is among our future prospects," said the president of the Pompidou, adding that the project is in a preliminary phase, even if it already has a particular country in the spotlight. "I'm very interested in Colombia. It is a promising country with many resources, where artists' groups have contributed to pacify social life. "

Before, the Pompidou will open a venue in Brussels in 2018, where it will occupy an old art deco garage of 35,000 square meters. If the conversations come to fruition, it will also open a subsidiary in Shanghai. "We look forward to announce it during this first quarter," he said. The Chinese Pompidou should open in a building to suit you, which is currently built in an old airport of the city. In addition, Lasvignes would like to create "one or two more venues". And does not rule out renewing the agreement with Malaga, which was to conclude in 2020. "It is not unimaginable to extend it," he insinuates with diplomacy. Since 2010, the Pompidou has also had another branch in Metz, in French Lorraine, to allow people living far from Paris to access their funds, which total more than 200,000 works and constitute the largest collection of modern art in Europe.

The president of the Pompidou Center, Serge Lasvignes, in which he will be based in Brussels, a former garage, in September 2016.
The president of the Center Pompidou, Serge Lasvignes, which will be its headquarters in Brussels, a former garage, in September 2016.

Precisely, this anniversary takes place under the sign of decentralization. Allergic to nostalgia, Lasvignes has chosen not to celebrate the ephemeris with a historical exhibition, but to organize 40 different samples throughout the French territory, from Marseilles to Lille and from Bordeaux to Strasbourg, temporarily lending their works to regional museums. "Democratizing art is a mobilizing utopia: it never ends and demands a constant will," says Lasvignes, who also wants to fight to promote diversity among its visitors. "When I look at my audience, I see that the highest social categories remain overrepresented. There are still efforts to be made, "he acknowledges. At the back of the Pompidou, young people of all colors and social classes form a long queue to access the museum's library, one of the busiest in Europe (1.2 million visits a year). The aim of Lasvignes is to bring that line back into the halls. Your first gesture will be to create a single entrance for the entire center. Work will begin in 2018, but will not involve any widespread closure.

This museum is not perfect, but it has managed to change the way of seeing and exposing contemporary art.

Manuela Pulido

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