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Xavier Rey. Photo: Centre Pompidou.
Xavier Rey. Photo: Centre Pompidou.

Xavier Rey Named Director of Centre Pompidou

Xavier Rey has been announced as the next director of the Centre Pompidou. The thirty-nine-year-old, who is currently director of the Musée de Marseille, will assume his new role in October, two years before the storied Parisian institution closes for a four-year-long renovation project. He replaces outgoing director Bernard Blistène, who spent eight years at the helm before departing last month.

News of Rey’s appointment as leader of France’s top contemporary art museum appeared to take many insiders by surprise, given his comparative youth and relatively brief curatorial experience. He is nearly two decades younger than Blistène was when the latter stepped up to the post, and has worked in the French museum world for just over a decade, the last four years of which he spent at the Musée de Marseille. Before that, Rey served as director of collections at Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, notably organizing a major Cézanne exhibition there in 2017.

“His dynamism, goodwill, experience on the ground, and his openness to the arts, combined with his managerial skills, will be essential in order to conduct the Centre Pompidou’s new project successfully,” said Pompidou president Laurent Le Bon in a statement.

Le Bon himself is new to the institution: The former Musée Picasso head last month replaced Serge Lasvignes, who retired after a four-year stint as the museum’s president. Departing director Blistène, meanwhile, is expected to take on an as-yet-unnamed role at Kanal–Centre Pompidou in Brussels, following a kerfuffle in which that museum's board of directors sought to install him as artistic director alongside Kasia Redzisz, even though an independent jury had voted to award the Tate Liverpool senior curator the position. The move sparked accusations of “outrageous sexism” on the part of the board, which hastily backed down, leaving Blistène temporarily in limbo.