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Paris, Brussels, Málaga, Shanghai, Jersey City. If the final name seems an outlier among destinations of glamorous, global appeal, prepare to see the list ambling by on a tote bag in the not-too-distant future with the news Centre Pompidou plans to open its latest satellite museum, and first North American location, in the city across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

What is Centre Pompidou × Jersey City?

Conceptual model of Centre Pompidou × Jersey City, housed in the historic Pathside Building. Image: Courtesy of OMA

Jersey City’s latest move to become a regional international arts hub. In 2018, it purchased the Pathside Building, a five-story, 55,000 square-foot building in Journal Square, and pledged to convert it into a museum and community center. 

Set to be renovated alongside architecture firm OMA, led by Jason Long, the museum will have access to Pompidou’s expertise, and its 120,000-strong collection of modern and contemporary artworks. The city is footing the bill and in addition to renovation costs estimated between $10 million and $30 million, will pay the Parisian institution $6 million across a five-year contract beginning in 2024, when museum construction is set to be completed. 

Why it matters

The belief that high-profile cultural institutions (naturally, designed by A-list architects) can regenerate cities and draw visitors to off-the-beaten-trail locations has captured the imagination since the Guggenheim arrived in industrial Bilbao at the end of the 20th century. The Pompidou has explored this phenomenon to its advantage, opening a satellite every couple of years since 2015, and while the so-called “Guggenheim effect” has often proved expensive and underwhelming, Jersey City’s case has more merit than most. 

Centre Pompidou × Jersey City

The future satellite is set to be developed in close collaboration with local creatives and residents, as well as international art professionals and emerging talents. Image: Courtesy of OMA

Beyond the fact Jersey City has undergone dramatic gentrification, and is increasingly younger and more affluent, it’s a regional transportation hub with the future museum standing adjacent to a PATH train station and a 15-minute ride to lower Manhattan. As Dia:Beacon and Storm King Art Center, contemporary art institutions located two hours north of the city, have shown, New Yorkers will travel regionally for art. Second, the Pompidou development is part of a wider push led by the city government to turn the city into a “regional anchor” for the arts, which includes the recent restoration of a century old local theatre and a new tax to finance cultural institutions. 

From Centre Pompidou’s perspective, the New Jersey outpost is not only an opportunity to engage directly with North American audiences and burnish its global brand, but a means of displaying its collection and drawing revenue during the planned four-year closure of the Paris museum for renovation in late 2023.  

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What they said

“We’ve raised the bar with a tremendous international partnership that will being world-class opportunities to Jersey City. This is the latest major step towards our broader revitalization goals, utilizing all our City has to offer and establishing Journal Square as a cultural destination for generations to come.” — Steven Fulop, Mayor of City of Jersey City

“Our ongoing experiments in Málaga, Brussels, and Shanghai have proven the strength and appropriateness of our way to go outside of our walls and conclude innovative partnerships… the Centre Pompidou will open a dialogue with the USA from Jersey City, a very dynamic and diverse community.” — Serge Lasvignes, President, Centre Pompidou

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