Tres Bizarre

New Pompidou Outpost Puzzles Metz

Metz, an unglamorous French city that's long struggled with its identity, is now buzzing about its new branch of Paris’ Pompidou Center. Dropped into an industrial district, the museum, with a sloping white roof, has already earned jokey nicknames, like "Smurf House" and "Chinese Hat." Metz, home to a large military base, has been passed between Germany and France multiple times; a German takeover in 1871 caused an intellectual exodus. “Those commotions destroyed the city’s self-esteem,” the mayor told The New York Times. A resident chimed in, “For the rest of France, we are a barracks city, a sad and ugly city." Officials hope the contemporary-art museum will draw tourists from all over, revitalizing the city much like the Guggenheim did Bilbao. So far, many residents love the new addition. The museum's inaugural exhibition will feature Picasso's Rideau de scène de parade on its display walls, the largest in the world, as well as 800 artworks including Alexander Calder’s Joséphine Baker IV, Picasso’s Femme à la tête rouge, plus paintings by Matisse and Braque.