Museums Saudi Arabia

Pompidou camps out in Dhahran

Paris museum abandons mobile museum project at home and plans to launch instead a temporary exhibition in Saudi Arabia

Alain Seban, the Pompidou President, wants to send the collection overseas

The Centre Pompidou in Paris is abandoning its mobile museum project at home and plans to launch instead a temporary exhibition in Saudi Arabia, modelled on the show that has toured the French provinces for the past two years.

The inaugural exhibition in Saudi Arabia, which is due to open in the eastern city of Dhahran in the autumn (26 October-27 November), will include works by artists such as Donald Judd, Alexander Calder, André Derain and Olafur Eliasson, drawn from the institution’s collection.

The exhibition, based on the theme of “colours”, is inspired by the first series of Mobile Pompidou shows, which launched in 2011 in Chaumont, northern France. The project is a prelude to the Pompidou’s joint venture with the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, an arts complex incorporating a museum, the building of which has stalled.

“More than 20 masterpieces from the Pompidou collection will be presented [in Dhahran] using similar window cases [to the mobile museum] in a climate-controlled tent that will also include an arts café and workshop area,” says a spokeswoman for the Centre Pompidou. “More than 100,000 visitors are expected to visit what will certainly be one of the very first arts projects of this kind in Saudi Arabia.”

Alain Seban, the president of the Centre Pompidou, aims to form a network of “temporary centres” overseas (The Art Newspaper, May 2012, p1), with the Saudi Arabia project a key strand of the initiative. “The plan is to present exhibitions, made up of several dozen works, for periods of three to four years, providing a panorama of the 20th century,” he told Agence-France Presse. The Centre Pompidou has halted its mobile-museum project in France because of the cost.

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