From the City of Lights to the Garden State: A new branch of the Centre Pompidou is coming to Jersey City.
Centre Pompidou x Jersey City, as the new outpost is called, will set up shop in a 109-year-old industrial building in the city’s Journal Square neighborhood—a stone’s throw from lower Manhattan, across the Hudson River. Like the museum’s other satellite branches, such as the Centre Pompidou Málaga in Spain, the KANAL Centre Pompidou in Belgium, and the Centre Pompidou Shanghai in China, the American outpost will have access to the Pompidou’s curators and collection of 120,000-some artworks, but will otherwise operate semi-independently.
The plan was announced today in a joint press conference between Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Pompidou president Serge Lasvignes.
In a statement, Lasvignes called the branch an “ambitious initiative,” noting that he and his team will apply the lessons learned from the museum’s other locations to its first North American branch. “Our ongoing experiments in… Málaga, Brussels, and Shanghai have proven the strength and appropriateness of [going] outside of our walls,” he said.
The venue still requires the approval of the city council to move forward, according to the New York Times, which first reported the expansion. Should that be granted, as it’s expected to, the city is eyeing an opening date in early 2024.
For the Paris Pompidou, that date may prove to be especially convenient. The museum’s flagship location, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, will shut down in late 2023 as it undergoes a four-year and $243 million top-to-bottom renovation.
Per its deal with the Pompidou, Jersey City will pay to both update the Journal Square building and operate the future museum. The city will also pay an annual fee to the Pompidou that, according to the Times, will cover the costs of branding, exhibition organization, and project development.
Built in 1912 as part of a trolley compound, the museum’s future home, called the Pathside building for its close proximity to the PATH train, boasts four floors and 58,000 square feet. The city purchased the structure for $9 million in 2018, saving it from being converted into luxury condos. The plan, Fulop explained at the press conference, was to convert the space into a major cultural destination.
Next was the task of finding an international partner to adapt its own program stateside. Fulop and his team commissioned OMA, the Rem Koolhaas-founded architectural firm, to facilitate such a partnership. That’s when the Pompidou came in.
“There is no question in the last year that the pandemic has changed cities forever. Across the country we see cities deciding how they will retract and re-emerge stronger,” said Fulop. “In Jersey City, I know unequivocally arts and culture will be the backbone of what makes our city desirable.”