lundi 16 novembre 2009

The Art in Montreal - The future of its museums

Montreal has many museums, over thirty, and though some are local in scope, others are institutions whose reputation transcends borders and they are known all around the world.
It is the case of the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal led by Nathalie Bondil which has actually up to six exhibitions created by her team and currently circulating around the world in major museums.
However for artists in Montreal, their favorite museum has long been the Museum of Contemporary Art, in particular because of its mandate towards the promotion of modern art. This appreciation was particularly true during the 80s while the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montréal was a real rallying point, a sort of cultural center.
But today in 2009, this institution is undergoing an identity crisis and many Montreal artists who defended and took pride in this institution are now at war and they attack it openly in the public place.
The conflict began immediately after the appointment of new CEO, Paulette Gagnon, replacing Marc Mayer, a rising star who was supposed to put the museum on the international map but abandoned the MACM to head a museum more prestigious, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.The situation did not improve last week when the Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal announced that it increased its exhibition space dedicated to contemporary art and has also announced that he has concluded an 5 years agreement with Loto Quebec to expose works from their collection, a project that normally should have been achieved at the Museum of Contemporary Art, given that the MACM is funded by the Government of Quebec!
Some artists have suggested that such action by Loto Quebec shows an intention from the Quebec Government of Jean Charest to dispose of the MAMC and to entrust the operation of its permanent collection to the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal which it is already partially funded by the Government. It is only a rumor but no smoke without fire...
I do not believe in the logic of such a project, but after discussing the idea with several experts in contemporary art and have even raised the issue at the event "The MACM in question, I am convinced that this fusion is not impossible. The Museum of Fine Art in Montreal currently uses 1395 square meters for its contemporary art galleries while the galleries of the Museum of contemporary art are in total 2 826 square meters. A merger of the permanent collection of the MACM with the MBAM and the transfer of the building of St Catherine Street would give to the Museum of Contemporary Art the freedom to return to its true mandate which is the promotion of local modern artists, together with the local art centers which are located throughout Quebec. The MACM would then become a center of promotion rather than a showroom whose agenda has nothing to do with the mandate and mission of the institution.
A story to follow but one thing is certain: the world of the Montreal art has never been so moving and it is obvious that change is on the agenda!
Bernard Bujold
Lien Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
Photo 1: Nathalie Bondil, Paulette Gagnon and view of Montréal
Photo 2: Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
Photo 3: Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

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