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Pompidou Centre celebrates 35 years

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Pompidou Centre celebrates 35 years
Stephen Carlile
09:03 CET+01:00

Parisian modern art museum the Pompidou Centre celebrates its 35th birthday on January 31st.

On the same day in 1977 the museum was opened by then president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

The museum is officially known as the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, but most Parisians just call it Beaubourg, as a reference to the area where it stands.

The innovative and controversial design of the building, with its exposed pipework, was the result of an open competition launched by the former president Georges Pompidou. 

He had wanted to create a cultural institute in central Paris devoted to contemporary art including design, music, cinema and books. 

The contest was won by two young architects, the Italian Renzo Piano and the Briton Richard Rogers.

The design of the building caused both admiration and anger. It was referred to by some as a petrol refinery and nicknamed "Notre Dame of Plumbing."

Yet the building was a huge success with the public and latest figures for 2011 saw 3.6 million visitors come through its doors.

Pompidou himself never saw his vision of a contemporary art museum for Paris. He died unexpectedly in April 1974 while still president. 

The centre's most recent exhibition on Norwegian artist Edvard Munch attracted 500,000 visitors, making it the sixth most popular exhibition in the museum's history. The most popular exhibition in the museum's history was the 1979-1980 Salvador Dalí retrospective.

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