Centre Pompidou or the best museum experience
I have been in Paris for many times, but unfortunately never had been to the Pompidou Center. And this is a story why you should go there, not in the Louvre.
Actually, it was quite a fun experience: I had only two days in the city, and decided that I MUST visit Louvre (though I've been there), and that probably, may be I will go to some museum I've never been to. Of course I've heard about Centre Pompidou, but never knew what it is about. So I decided that I will will go to Louvre and decide on the Centre later. And it was terrible! The Louvre was super overcrowded, very sultry, it was so difficult to navigate through the crowd, and the overall user experience was driving me crazy. Probably because the building was not meant as a museum and the collection is huge, there is no logic in navigation, there were Egyptian art halls on 3 different floors in different wings of the building, and I wasn't able to find any of them. So I suppose it is only possible to go there with an experienced guide, who will take you through the mess and crowds, who will tell you something interesting (because otherwise you will just float around through millions of sculptures, trying not to step on someone's shoe). Uh! After 2 hours I just cried and run to the "Exit" sign as fast as I could.
So after that day I didn't want to go to museum anymore, but I couldn't let myself give up. I went to the website of the Centre Pompidou, looked through the collection, saw Matisse's works, and decided that it is a good reason to go.
I bought tickets online, got a little bit upset that I missed an opportunity to register for a guided tour in English (every Saturday at 11.30, but there were no tickets, as I was looking for them on Friday evening), and prepared headphones as I found some podcast on their website. I wasn't sure it is going to work, but still.
What is the Centre?
From the website:
In 1969, President Georges Pompidou decided to provide France with a venue like no other: a centre for art and culture capable of housing both the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, with an international dimension, a large public library (the future Bpi), a centre for industrial creation and a centre for musical research and creation (Ircam), all together in one and the same building situated in the heart of the capital. Built up patiently over the years, today the collection of modern and contemporary art brings together more than 120,000 works. It is the richest collection in Europe and the second in the world. Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Otto Dix, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Frida Kahlo, Wassily Kandinsky, Yves Klein, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Annette Messager, Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Jean Prouvé, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Xavier Veilhan, and so many more!
What about the experience?
The next day I overslept and wasn't sure that they will let me in (the tickets are registered for a specific time). But when I arrived there was no line at the entrance, I got in with no problems.
In Russia there is a saying "the theatre starts with a hanger". And here the museum starts with a cloakroom. And from the very first moment you can feel that it is so easy just to be here. You go in to the big hall with many self-locked boxes. Red are occupied, and green are free. Choose a box, lock all your belongings there - and go enjoy the exhibition! The boxes varies in size from the umbrella case to a size of a hand luggage, so it is very convenient.
The collection is located on the 5 and 4 levels (unusual, but this is because of all libraries and public spaces). At the beginning you can grad an unfolding CHAIR and then use it to have a seat in any place you wish. I took one! My legs are usually killing me in the museums, and it was so good not to think about it. Then you come to the first artwork (all 2 floor are clearly marked and numerated, and you will not be able to got in the wrong direction), you see Matisse's work.
Here you can see how the modern museum should work!
First of all, you scan QR code and go the the museum chatbot page. Then you just simply take a photo of the picture in front of you and a bot gives you different opportunities to interact. For example, to listen to a podcast about the artwork, or to have a chat, or to watch a video. The podcast was really great, it was not a formal general speech about brushstrokes and "you can see the red background", but further details or author's quotes about the work. Also I had a chat about this work and there I saw different work of Matisse of women in blouses, which I've never seen! I got to know that Matisse was collecting fabrics and it was his passion, and that he took photos of works in process.
It was super interesting! There are about 20 podcasts for particular artworks, for about 8 minutes each. (So it is already almost 3h!) Also there are a lot of pictures with no podcasts for them, but with some information you can read in chatbot. It was so great that you can seat on the chair, listen to an interesting lecture and see some pictures all from your phone. I though the website will work poorly, as usually there are some problems with large websites opened on our mobile device, but it worked perfect, Internet connection was great (hello Louvre with no connection or WiFi) and even my mom was glad to use it.
Also on the small tags near every art piece there was not only the information like "Oil on canvas" (hello, Louvre), but a part of interesting information, so even if you don't have an Internet, you will learn something new.
We spend 2 hours in the halls, and only saw 1/4 of the collection, as we took time to read and listen. It was super interesting and I wish I would be stronger so I would be able to stay for longer, but I just needed some rest:) I know for sure that I will come back!
And be careful! The museum has a great bookshop on the ground floor, I couldn't resist and bought one book, thought they have an amazing collection of art books, children books and just beautiful printed things from different countries.
Web site https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/
There are also guided tours available on certain days, the registration is required https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/visit/guided-tours
Full price ticket is €15 and all the interactive information is free.
Also, this museum doesn't waste money and trees on the paper maps, which will be thrown away after 30 minutes, so you can use online map.
Would you visit a museum like this?