Montreal museum unveils extension

24 Nov 2011

Montreal museum exhibits celebration of Canadian cultural heritage through redevelopments devoted to fine arts

The museum of Montreal, having recently turned the ripe age of 150 is rejuvenating its inner façade, offering a revamped tribute to Canada’s rich cultural heritage. The two dominating elements to this structural progression are a starkly extended gallery in addition to a 444-seat concert hall. Having already become available to the general public in October 2011, those visitors to have already graced it's latest fare would have absorbed a guaranteed 20% extra offering of fine art. The Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion features 18,953 sq ft. of exhibition space, doubling the previous display area afforded to the attraction’s collection. It is hoped some 600 works of Canadian art will now be on display, including recently restored works and many major acquisitions.

The concert hall, which takes pride of place in the refurbished nave of the Victorian ‘Erskine and American Church’ draws its essence of splendour from the imposingly unique exterior. Acquiring in 1998 the recognition of a nationally historic site, the church features striking walls of rusticated grey limestone and lavishly-sculpted brown Miramichi sandstone, and incorporates an uncommon Byzantine-style dome. 146 stained glass windows allow for an impressive illumination, whilst a prominent six-panel window depicts images of the surrounding landscape. This trend of promoting an extended interaction to the cityscape is continued via a glass-in gallery, which allows multiple panoramic views of the city. Providing ideal acoustics for chamber groups and other small ensembles, a targeted 100 annual performances may bear witness to this latest concert venue.

Being the brainchild of local based architectural firm Provencher Roy + Associés, one of the project’s defining qualities, and determinedly pivotal criteria of the commissioners, is its ability to successfully combine both the old and new into a unified appearance. Those behind this assimilation, stated: “Nowadays I think that we have to ensure meaningful integrations of buildings… Such attempts must be contemporary, yet respectful and characteristic of their time. The example of the Pavilion incorporating the Erskine and American Church belongs to this new trend.” This continual look was attempted by opting for building materials, including 1,500 sheets of Vermont white marble, specific to the new contemporary section and in concert with the former church.

Tom Aston

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