In recent years, the Center Pompidou in Paris has sought to expand its reach worldwide by opening museum outposts in cities hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilometers away. In 2015 it opened one in Málaga, Spain; 2018 in Brussels; a year later in Shanghai.
So what’s the next destination for the Pompidou, the Paris art museum and cultural center?
Jersey City, NJ, of course.
Institution’s President Serge Lasvignes and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop will announce Friday that the city plans to convert a centuries-old industrial building in Journal Square into the Pompidou’s first North American satellite. If the city council approves the plan, the museum, which is expected to open in early 2024, will have access to art from the Pompidou’s collection of around 120,000 works and its experts – and the benefit of being connected to one of Paris’ most popular cultural attractions .
“Our idea is to be confronted with something completely different,” said Lasvignes. “For us it is a way to learn – to get to know new circumstances, a new way of presenting art, a new way of presenting exhibitions.”
With the commitment to host the Pompidou satellite, Jersey City has agreed to take on the financial burden of renovating the building and operating the museum, which will be called Center Pompidou x Jersey City. In addition, the city pays the museum an annual fee, which covers project development, branding and the organization of exhibitions. A city spokeswoman said the city has agreed to pay the museum an annual fee of up to $ 6 million for the duration of the contract to cover project development, branding, educational programs and organizing exhibitions.
The global outposts of the Pompidou will become even more important to the institution when it closes for around four years of renovation work from the end of 2023 and its striking inside-out house – designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers – is temporarily closed with color-coded water pipes, air conditioning ducts and a caterpillar-like escalator on the outside. The satellites will allow the Pompidou to display art from its collection outside of its Paris hub.
The Jersey City government has been working to establish itself across the Hudson River from New York City as a haven for the arts – one ready to invest in new cultural attractions, like the recent restoration of the centuries-old Loew’s Theater . In November, voters also approved a vote promising to introduce a new tax that would help fund cultural institutions.
“We hope that we can use the Pompidou’s know-how, its experience in other parts of the world and its collection to create something really meaningful here,” said Fulop.
The city has been looking for use for the four-story brick building at 25 Journal Square – called the Pathside Building, which is adjacent to a PATH train station – since 2018, when it bought the building for $ 9 million. The city prevented the conversion into residential units, but promised to turn it into a museum and a community center.
The building was built in 1912 as part of a wagon complex and was converted into Hudson County Community College classrooms and a library in the mid-1990s. During recent renovations, the city exposed a gallery space with 17-foot ceilings on the first floor, said Jason Long, the project’s chief architect.
The total cost of the renovation has not yet been determined, but Mr Fulop estimated it to be between $ 10 million and $ 30 million. To help fund the museum, the city expects to raise funds from the private sector and apply for government subsidies, Fulop said.
The city has yet to determine the artistic direction of the museum. Like the Center Pompidou in Paris, the Jersey City branch will be not just a gallery, but a multidisciplinary cultural and educational center that will host lectures, films and live performances.
The pandemic slowed negotiations between the museum and the city, shifted critical conversations online instead of in person, and prevented Pompidou officials from visiting the Jersey City building.
“It is the first time that we have signed a contract without being there,” said Lasvignes.
The Center Pompidou has previously been considered as a museum outpost in North America, including Chicago, but those plans never came to fruition. As with the outposts in Málaga and Shanghai, the contract between the Pompidou and Jersey City will last five years from 2024, after construction is expected to be completed; thereafter there is the possibility of an extension.