|Strolling through an art gallery is a great way to while away a few hours between meetings when you are on a lonely business trip. But there are galleries and then there are galleries. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is rightfully one of Canada’s most famous museums. Founded in 1860 as the Art Association of Montreal, today it is a veritable treasure trove spanning four pavilions with a fifth estimated to open in 2016.You’ll find the Musée within Le Mille Carré Doré (the Gold Square Mile) at the foot of Mount Royal on Sherbrooke Street in New Montreal. The neighbourhood, also referred to as Uptown, is located in west-central downtown Montreal.
MMFA was one of the first museums in North America to amass an encyclopedic collection of 41,000 permanent pieces of art from antiquity to modern time. Visitors can expect to view every form of artistic impression from paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photographs and decorative art objects to music.
The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion is housed in the classic original building erected in 1912. This sober but majestic building houses art from world cultures. The Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, a modernist concrete building which backs onto the original pavilion, is the home of nearly 900 decorative arts and design objects that include furniture, glass, silverware, textiles, ceramics and industrial design pieces from different countries and time periods. In 1991, a third building, the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, was built on the south side of Sherbrooke Street to house international art. The most recent addition to the MMFA, the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, opened in 2011. Home to Quebec and Canadian art, the venue is located in the restored Erksine and American Church. The building, an artistic piece in itself, was designed in 1894 in Neo-Romanesque style and has been designated a national historic site. The building, graced with high quality acoustics and 20 stunning Tiffany stained glass windows is also now home to a 444-seat concert hall, Bourgie Hall. Musical performances are as eclectic as the art with performances by chamber-music ensembles, string orchestras, and others including the Arte Musica Foundation who offers a full music program. Last year the International Festival of Films on Art, FIFA, made a permanent move into the pavilion and is now able to integrate its films into the museum’s growing list of available programs.
Attending a concert after touring the art collection is an out-of-body experience; the visual images take on a third dimension in your mind as you listen to the music.
Combining visual arts with music has been the focus of the museum and has led to some interesting and innovative exhibitions unique to Canada, including Warhol Live: Music and Dance in Andy Warhol’s Work; Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko; We Want Miles: Miles Davis vs. Jazz; Lyonel Feininger and Splendore a Venezia: Art and Music from the Renaissance to Baroque in the Serenissima.
In celebration of the museum’s 375th anniversary a fifth wing, the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, will open in late 2016 and be devoted to international art and education. “The phrase ‘creative studios’ perhaps sums up 2015 for the MMFA, with three major exhibitions looking at the ostentatious studio‐salon of orientalist painting, the forbidden studio‐laboratory of Rodin, and the studio‐circle of the 1920s marked by modernity and the emancipation of women artists. The MMFA will also further its social and educational commitment with contemporary artists and educational exhibitions dealing with such subjects as exclusion, the environment and homophobia,” says Director and Chief Curator Nathalie Bondil.
As members of the Bizot Group, or the International Group of Organizers of Large-scale Exhibitions, a forum developed for the leaders of the largest museums in the world to exchange works and exhibitions, the MMFA is privy to receiving excellent exhibitions from around the world and has produced and circulated many of its own exhibitions across North and South America, Europe and Australia.
This is a must see stop for museum and music lovers. C’est incroyable!