Workers at the Centre Pompidou Went on Strike, Demanding Job Security Ahead of the Museum’s Planned Renovation

The strike affected the presentation of the Marcel Duchamp Prize.

The Centre Pompidou. Photo by Firas Abdullah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Centre Pompidou in Paris, a complex of buildings that houses the Public Information Library and France’s National Museum of Modern Art, closed Monday, October 16, as staff members conducted a strike for guarantees they will keep their jobs ahead of a planned renovation.

“Due to a social movement, the Centre Pompidou and the Public Information Library are exceptionally closed this Monday, October 16,” the complex said in a statement on Facebook. “Today’s tickets remain valid for one month. We apologize for the inconvenience caused.”

The strike included members of the National Union of Museums and Estates, a federation of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), one of five major national trade union confederations in France.

In a document shared by the CGT, the workers said the Centre Pompidou will close for renovations in about a year with reopening not planned until 2030. The closure will affect about 1,000 employees in various roles from conservation to security and administration.

“After numerous meetings, the Culture Ministry and the presidency of the Centre Pompidou are unable to tell us when, how, and where the workers, the museum collections, and all the activities that give the center its identity will go,” the union said in the document. “This lack of direction forces us to strike to get out of this opacity and obtain the means to continue to give you access to the Centre Pompidou.”

Reports said that a negotiation meeting between museum management, the government, and the five major unions “has yielded nothing so far.”

The strike affected the presentation of the Marcel Duchamp Prize, which the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art moved to the Artcurial auction house in Paris, Le Quotidien de L’Art reported.

The award is considered the most prestigious contemporary art prize in France and this year’s nominees included Bertille Bak, Bouchra Khalili, Tarik Kiswanson, and Massinissa Selmani. The Centre Pompidou later shared on Facebook that Kiswanson received the award for exploring “topics related to memory and heritage, timidity and belonging, but also wider to metamorphosis” in his work.

The Centre Pompidou’s long-planned renovations will see the institution close at the end of 2023 and reopen for its 50th anniversary in 2027. Its final show is expected to be “Picasso. Drawing to Infinity” (opening October 18), which brings together nearly 1,000 of the artist’s drawings.

The building, completed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in 1977, has shown visible signs of aging, AFP reported, as no substantial renovations had been undertaken since it opened. Officials were left with the options of either keeping the museum open or closing it completely.

“I chose the second because it should be shorter and a little bit less expensive,” Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told Le Figaro in 2021.

 

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