June 20, 2012 – In 2011, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) opened its new Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Québec and Canadian Art, as well as its Bourgie Concert Hall, located in the recently restored Erskine and American Church. With this double opening in celebration of the city’s architectural heritage, the MMFA continues to evolve pavilion by pavilion. It is this evolutionary legacy that gives the Museum its distinct personality and in this way that it attests to the city’s architectural evolution and diversity.
The Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Québec and Canadian Art
Newly added to the Erskine and American Church, this modern and wholly original building stands out immediately for its unusual combination of marble and glass. This innovative project, which was undertaken by Provencher Roy + Associés, has already earned the prestigious Canadian Architect Award of Merit and the Prix d’excellence 2011 of the Institut de développement urbain du Québec. Each floor of the pavilion is characterized by vast open spaces at the entrance to each exhibition room, allowing visitors to maintain a constant connection to the city – most notably, the glassed-in gallery on the sixth floor affords a spectacular view of Mount Royal. The building also impresses with its magnificent marble façade, which is made up of 1,500 slabs of white marble, a lavish material seldom used in Montréal, but which has been integrated into three other buildings at the Museum.
This new pavilion allows the MMFA to add more than 2,000 square metres of exhibition space. In this area, there is a chronological display of more than 600 Québécois and Canadian works, including many that have been restored or reframed, and a number of the Museum’s most recent acquisitions are also be on public display for the first time. As well, the pavilion gives visitors new pedagogical tools, such as an audioguide to the collection, which is free at all times. Many other cultural events are planned for the coming months as well, providing numerous reasons to come discover the new addition.
The Bourgie Concert Hall
The creation of a new concert hall was the driving force behind the project to restore the Erskine and American Church, which first opened in 1894. After acquiring the property in 2008, the directors of the Museum wanted to bring the soul back to the building and make it the pride of Montréal, while still maintaining its integrity. Numerous features of this Romanesque Revival building are quite unusual in the city, such as its majestic dome and its impressive façade, which is a combination of heavily rusticated grey limestone and lavishly sculpted brown Miramichi sandstone.
The Bourgie Concert Hall, named in honour of Pierre Bourgie (the patron and mastermind behind the Arte Musica Foundation), is a first-rate cultural centre, offering exceptional acoustics, which are aided by the addition of a birch shell over the stage, as well as all the latest technology for staging and electronics. With seating for 444, it includes 311 removable chairs on the parterre level, as well as 133 balcony seats that have been adapted from pews (now cushioned) from the original church.
The concert hall will always be seen in a good light with its permanent backlighting system and its collection of 146 stained-glass windows, which includes twenty Tiffany windows and the enormous half-rosette by artist Peter Haworth.
Two new Steinway pianos, two harpsichords and a twelve-stop, two-manual Hellmuth Wolff chamber organ are also available to musicians. As proof of the widespread interest generated by Bourgie Hall, some 125 concerts have already been scheduled. The styles presented in the hall will range from early music to contemporary fare, including classical, jazz and world music. The hall will also play host to a number of other cultural and educational activities linked to music and fine arts.