22 May 2010

METZ in the spotlight

Grand Opening of Centre Pompidou Metz

With great anticipation, my fellow assistants and I awaited the grand opening of the Metz Extension of the Centre Pompidou, and with great fanfare we watched it all unfold. This is the biggest thing to happen to Metz since Saint Clement drove the Graoully out of the city.  The architectural marvel created by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines, the Pompidou center has been a work in progress since long before our arrival last September.  We watched as it progressed, often wondering if it would ever make its deadline.  The feminine curves of the roof, dramatic, angular galleries jutting out of the exterior, and juxtaposition of building materials has created a new dimension, giving Metz relevance even 3,000 years after its birth.

We waited over two hours to be among the first to enter the museum opening day. The queue went as far as the train station. In line we heard a number of languages, and we beamed with pride, knowing that OUR city was in the spotlight, that the whole world was watching HER. As we walked inside, we could hardly contain the excitement of being a part of this historic moment for Metz.  The interior space is just as astounding as the exterior, it's a truly remarkable space. It felt like walking into a room of old, dear friends. Picasso. Matisse. Chagall. Warhol. Braque. Kandinsky.  We're all on a last name basis. The galleries have enormous windows, framing the greatest masterpiece of all, the city skyline of Metz, dominated by the cathedral.

We partook of the festivities surrounding the opening.  One night, white umbrellas equipped with flashlights were distributed to the throngs of people, who were instructed to wander around the museum grounds, the brilliant white of the illuminated umbrellas uniting with the white fiber glass roof of the Centre Pompidou.  We all became a living chef-d'œuvre, or Masterpiece. The effect was stunning; startlingly beautiful against the night sky.  We played rowdy game of follow the leader, weaving in and out throughout the crowds, twirling our umbrellas, spinning around, and changing directions without warning. A beautiful, childlike joy overflowed within us. Such simple pleasure... the best kind. Other festivities included a most impressive fireworks display, outdoor concerts, parades through the street, and even a mass freeze, in which we eagerly participated.

The Centre Pompidou promises to revitalize the city, bringing tourists from all over France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and beyond to a city previously overshadowed by surrounding regions. Vibrant new signage indicating the directions toward the train station, museums, centre-ville, and cathedral give the streets new life. Metz has taken the center stage, and I’m so proud to see her shine.  I grin as I pass my favorite bakeries and tea rooms, watching the crowds of visitors clamor for their delicious specialties.  With pride, I give directions to passers-by, even to French people.  It legitimizes me as a citizen of Metz.  To have more knowledge about a French town than an actual Frenchie is a pretty awesome feeling! 

Admittedly, I am a bit taken aback by the sudden invasion of tour buses, foreign tongues, crowds filling the cathedral, and tourists photographing my apartment building.  All of my favorite places are under siege by outsiders. I was quite content to live in one of France’s best-kept secrets.  However, I understand that Metz is an extraordinary place, deserving of admiration, exploration, and inspiration. If she can do for others even a fraction of what she has done for me, it would be life-changing for them.  I know deep down that I must be content to share her.

Kathy, Kappes, Elli and Cole waiting in line for the Centre Pompidou 

Centre Pompidou



Gorgeous interior space

The line 

The illuminated umbrellas in front of Pompidou

Concluding the evening with a glass of Bordeaux

Fireworks finale


  1. I really wish I could have been there for that opening! Love you, babe.

  2. I became aware of Herni Matisse's paper cuts while I was in college last century. Pompidou was my first chance to several of them "live", and I shall always be greatful.



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