July 27, 2021

at the Center Pompidou, “everything I announced, I did”

Appointed president of the Center Pompidou in 2015, Serge Lasvignes, 67, will step down on June 28. If he was not unanimous during his appointment – the one who was previously secretary general of the Elysee had been described as “Round-of-leather” through The chained Duck –, he revealed in the years that followed what a great state clerk was capable of.

So, is the Center Pompidou finished?

I have crossed the age limit! And you have to change people … But everything I announced at the beginning, I did. With the impression, however, that I could have gone further. To change the way of exhibiting, or rather to rediscover a dynamic that was that of the major exhibitions at the beginning of the Center Pompidou. Also warming the atmosphere, making it a more welcoming, more immersive place. I think there is still a lot of work to be done.

When you arrived, you stated that you intended to make the Center Pompidou a multidisciplinary place, as it was originally thought. Did you succeed?

I feel like I have advanced. The departments are now working together. At least, the museum and the cultural development department, renamed “culture and creation”, are thinking upstream about joint projects. The cinema is under the responsibility of three entities: the museum, for experimental cinema, the culture and creation department for auteur cinema, and the library for documentary cinema. The three talk to each other, present projects together, coordinate to occupy the Internet space. With IRCAM, it’s always a little trickier, but we’ve managed to work together, like on “Mutations / Créations”, a series of exhibitions where we meet the arts, sciences and design. Their annual ManiFeste festival takes into account the centre’s programming to match it.

Read the interview with Serge Lasvignes (in 2016): “We show art in the making”

And the library?

It has found a single entrance through the piazza, the same as visitors to the center, which will allow more open circulation: previously, the library reader could not access the museum, and vice versa. We have put in place a series of measures to encourage readers to go to the Center Pompidou. In particular what has been called “the quarter hour chrono”, which allows them to go and see a work in the museum while keeping their place in the reading room. It works very well! Another successful initiative is that which concerns those of our readers, immigrants, who come to the library to learn French: we make them work in front of the works. We are going forward…

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