Everyone knows the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Its gaudy tubular architecture by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano practically screams: look at me, I’m a museum of contemporary art.
But it has a younger sibling, in Metz, which opened in 2010, more than 30 years after the Paris museum. And although the white-canopied Pompidou Centre-Metz in the economically depressed region of Lorraine is equally spectacular from an architectural point of view, it’s run into financial difficulties as a result of declining numbers. And also from the maintenance charges on the hi-tech museum, designed to mimic a Chinese hat found by the building’s Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban.
The Paris museum attracts millions of visitors annually - its Dali exhibition earlier this year brought in 790,000 art lovers. In Metz, after starting out with record numbers of 800,000 visitors in its first year, the numbers fell to almost half that in 2012. That still means 450,000 people made their way to Metz to view the contemporary art on display. But as a result the Pompidou Centre-Metz had to dig into its reserves last year to find 750,000 euros (£650,000) to balance the budget.
A round of belt-tightening is now in order. The museum board has just voted on a budget giving 620,000 euros (£535,000) in savings. Museum director Laurent Le Bon says staff jobs will be safe but some exhibitions may be postponed into next year, and the 2013 budget also calls for a 40 per cent cut in the museum’s “spectacular theatre” events.