I had tried to suspend my disbelief (but not to squelch my excitement) when I heard the news, almost two years ago, that the “Pompidou x Jersey City” would be coming to a renovated, repurposed 1912 building, a mere 10 miles south of La Maison Rosenbaum in The Garden State.
That said, the projected opening date of the Jersey Pompidou (as of two weeks ago, when I asked for an update) is now delayed to 2026, from the initially announced 2024. And now there’s a new wrinkle:
Steven Fulop, Jersey City’s art-friendly Mayor, who is now serving his third term, has just announced that he intends to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor. (As a two-term Governor, Phil Murphy cannot seek a third consecutive term under New Jersey law.) This means that the opening of the Pompidou outpost in 2026 (or later) will be under the auspices of an as-yet undetermined political leader.
I recently reconnected with Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione, Jersey City’s press secretary, to see whether her city’s Pompidou plans are still in play, notwithstanding the recent news that both Saudi Arabia (click on the .pdf attachment) and Seoul are planning to join the Pompidou’s growing empire.
In my 2014 opinion piece for Apollo magazine, pegged to the Guggenheim Museum’s misfires, I had expressed my misgivings about attempts to establish satellite museums in foreign countries:
Launching and managing a satellite museum in a foreign country that is capable of conceiving and managing its own cultural institutions is not collaboration; it’s colonization. The never-realized Guggenheim proposals for outposts in Rio de Janeiro, Guadalajara, Tokyo, Taichung, Hong Kong, Salzburg, Singapore and Vilnius are compelling evidence that new institutions need to take root organically, arising from the wishes and imperatives of a country’s own cultural community, not from a foreign institution’s well-intentioned, but ultimately self-interested agenda.
Here’s what I recently learned about the status of “Centre Pompidou x Jersey City” (its working title), in an emailed Q&A with Wallace-Scalcione:
––ROSENBAUM: What can you say about the programs and exhibitions that are envisioned?
–—WALLACE-SCALCIONE: The project has a strong focus on education, our local arts community, multidisciplinary programming, and includes a welcoming space for community engagement, all of which the city has made top priority for this historic project.
—ROSENBAUM: Will it have its own collection and, if so, what will be its focus?
–—WALLACE-SCALCIONE: Plans are still being finalized.
—ROSENBAUM: Have you picked a director for it? If so, who?
–—WALLACE-SCALCIONE: We are still in the design phase. A director will be decided on at a later date.
—ROSENBAUM: With whom in the U.S. is the Pompidou working to bring this to fruition?
–—WALLACE-SCALCIONE:The City of Jersey City is working closely with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, OMA, Paratus Group, and the Centre Pompidou team.
—ROSENBAUM: Will the Pompidou’s plans for Saudi Arabia and Seoul have any impact on your project? If so, please describe.
—WALLACE-SCALCIONE: These projects are part of the global branding for the Centre Pompidou, and our NJ project is part of that global reach.
For now, New Jersey art aficionados can enjoy another new display—Seeing America, the Newark Museum’s ambitious new multi-ethnic reinstallation of its distinguished American art collection)
And in other Paris news: The Art Newspaper reports that the Pompidou will “close for extensive renovations after the Olympic Games which will be held in the French capital during the summer of 2024. The initial restoration plan involved shutting down the Centre Pompidou for three years from the end of 2023.”
Mieux vaut tard que jamais?
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