The Pompidou Museum has created the The Mobile Pompidou Centre – the first mobile museum in the world.
In 2012 it appeared at Boulogne-sur-Mer at the Gare Maritime, the port area abandoned by ferry companies in recent years.
The bright colours of this fantastically innovative structure were like a surreal beacon against the grey concrete of ageing car ramps, concrete car parks and grey buildings. A polymorphic structure of three tents which can be adapted to any environment from shopping centres to historic town centres. The Mobile Pompidou Centre is a lightweight and transportable edifice and the intention of the creators was to invoke the spirit of the circus or carnival – it certainly does that. The design allows the Mobile Pompidou Centre to go anywhere in France and to bring great art to the wider public.
A selection of masterpieces from the main collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris which houses one of the richest collections in the world, were transported to their new exhibition area in the Mobile Pompidou Centre.
On display were paintings and sculptures which take the visitor on a journey into art since the early 20th Century with some of the greatest contemporary artists of all time which takes as its theme – Colour.
Picasso’s Femme en bleu (Woman in blue) 1944, František Kupka’s La Gamme Jaune (Yellow Range) 1907, Jean Dubuffet’s amazing Papa Gymnastique, Fernand Léger’s Les Grands Plongeurs noirs (The Big Black Divers) 1944 and many more (see website link below for more details). My personal favourite was the Niki de Saint Phalle L’Aveugle dans la prairie (the Blind Man in the Meadow) 1974 exhibit, two separate sculptures; one a beautiful large colourful cow, the other a black and white man, reading a newspaper unable to appreciate the beauty of the coloured cow depicting modern man, always in too much of a hurry to appreciate his surroundings. Seen in a room on its own, alone, against the white of the interior, it was a quite amazing and moving sight.
Inside the structure the colours that lured the visitor in are replaced with white walls and ceilings and a neutral coloured floor – allowing the artwork to take centre stage without distraction. Sculptures are viewed – not behind bars or ropes but displayed in all their glory in such a way that the viewer was able to walk around them and enjoy them in a close and intimate sense. Paintings were behind safety glass but viewable from just inches away and I suspect members of the public are rarely able to enjoy such magnificent art in such close proximity.
I spoke to one of the administrators who told me that they have had many children visit the mobile Pompidou Centre and they certainly had younger visitors in mind when they put the collection together.
I arrived as the centre opened at 12.00 noon and had the place almost to myself for a while before a group of very young children aged 5-6 arrived. They were fascinated by the optical glass disc and lamp sculpture by Olafur Eliasson which changed colour as the hanging glass and mirrored circles slowly turned and bounced light off of the white walls and around the room.
I was totally amazed to see such a collection – eclectic, ephemeral and stunning, I felt privileged to have seen the beautiful works of art in this way and it was totally free to the public. A generous and generous spirited act from the organisers of this exhibition.