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Found 30 results

  1. Avec quelques commentaires architecturaux pour vous tous. Source: Dallas News “This,” says Martin Robitaille, “is the Old Sulpician Seminary. It dates to 1685 and is the oldest building still standing in Old Montreal. And this,” he goes on, sweeping his hand at a building across the street from the seminary, “is Mistake No. 1.” The more formal name of the latter edifice is the National Bank of Canada Tower. It was finished in 1967 and is done in the International Style: 52 concrete pillars rising 32 stories, covered in black granite, framing black-tinted windows. “Its elegant, sober appearance was intended to harmonize with the rest of the historical quarter of Old Montreal,” according to a panel in the nearby Centre d’histoire de Montréal museum, but many, including Robitaille, think it most certainly does not. Robitaille could be considered biased: He’s a professional tour guide, and his beat today is the section of Montreal just north of the St. Lawrence River, roughly a dozen blocks long and three blocks wide, that is the city’s historic center. The quarter’s small, crooked streets are filled by handsome buildings of dressed limestone, some somberly Scottish and plain, some effusively Italian, with intricate carvings and terra cotta ornamentation. Stand at any of a dozen intersections — Sainte-Hélène and des Récollets is a good example — and you are transported, architecturally at least, back in time. Which is why Robitaille finds the incursion of something in the International Style so grating. It really ruins the mood. His tour begins at Place d’Armes, in the shadow of a statue of one of the people who founded the city in 1642, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve. “They came here to convert the natives,” Robitaille says. “Not so successful. After about 20 years, it became a commercial center. The fur trade.” As European demand for fur grew, so did Montreal. Its success as the funneling point of pelts from Canada’s vast forests to the Continent made it the obvious spot to locate head offices when settlers began to pour into the west. “The Golden Age was from 1850 to 1930,” Robitaille says. “That’s when Montreal was at its best.” And that’s when most of the buildings in Old Montreal were constructed. Robitaille’s tour takes us along Rue Saint-Jacques, once the heart of Montreal’s — and Canada’s — financial district. At the corner of Rue Saint-Pierre he points out four bank buildings, two of which, the CIBC and the Royal, still perform their original function. The Royal’s banking hall, built in 1928, is “a temple of money,” our guide says: soaring stone, coffered ceiling, echoing and imperious. The other two banks have been turned into high-end boutique hotels . LHotel is the plaything of Guess Jeans co-founder Georges Marciano. Marciano has sprinkled its lobby and hallways with $50 million worth of art from his private collection, including works by Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miró, Robert Rauschenberg , Marc Chagall, David Hockney, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Across the road, the former Merchants Bank is now the St. James, “considered the most luxurious hotel in town,” says Robitaille. The top floor is where folks like Elton John, U2 and the Rolling Stones stay when they’re in town. We twist and turn through Old Montreal’s narrow streets. Hidden away at 221 Saint-Sacrement is one of the few old houses left, three stories, solid stone. Today, it houses offices. “Most of the architecture surrounding us is commercial, not residential,” Robitaille says. The banks were the most lavish in design, but the warehouses, many now renovated as condominiums, were nearly as spectacular. When Robitaille was a child, his parents never brought him to Old Montreal. Then, as now, it was a bit cut off from the present-day downtown, further north, by the auto route Ville-Marie. After the banks decamped in the 1960s, Old Montreal spent the next several decades in decay. At one point, much of it was to be torn down for yet another freeway. A slow-swelling preservation movement finally gained traction in 1978 when the grain elevators blocking the view of the St. Lawrence River were demolished and a riverside walk opened. Over the next three decades, investors began to see the value in resuscitating the neighborhood. Now, more than 5,000 people call Old Montreal home, living mainly in converted warehouses. Restaurants, cafes, small hotels and plenty of art and clothing stores keep the area bustling. A tour like Robitaille’s is a fine way to be introduced to Old Montreal. For those who want to know more, two museums, the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, in a 1903 fire hall next to Place d’Youville (the site of the two Canadas’ parliament until rioters torched it in 1849), and the Pointe-à-Callière Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, are the places to go. In the basement of the latter are the ruins of buildings that previously stood on the site, along with part of the tunnel that Little Saint-Pierre River once ran through and the city’s first graveyard, filled largely with the bodies of those killed by Iroquois attacks in the settlement’s earliest days. For those who prefer to strike out on their own, Discover Old Montreal, a well-illustrated booklet published by the provincial government, provides a detailed self-guided walking tour and is for sale in both museums. For those who just want to soak in the ambience, the simplest thing is to start in Place Jacques Cartier and stroll first east and then west along Rue Saint-Paul, Montreal’s oldest street. (Its rough paving stones make comfortable walking shoes a necessity.) Robitaille’s final stop is at the Château Ramezay. Built in 1705 as a home for the governor of Montreal, it served several other purposes through the years, including sheltering Benjamin Franklin in 1776, before it became a museum in 1895. “It’s one of only six buildings from the French period, before 1763, still standing,” says our guide. A block away is the modern courthouse complex, finished in 1971 and designed by the same people who did the National Bank tower. “That,” says Robitaille with a final flourish, “is Mistake No. 2.” And so Old Montreal comes to an end.
  2. J'ai eu cette idée de ssc.com. Quelle tour qui est présentement en contruction (ou recemment complétée) n'importe ou dans le monde, aimerais tu voir à Montréal? N'oubliez pas les photos! je commence le MoMa à NYC!!! Vraiment incroyable! NYC n'a vraiment pas peur de construire à l'avant garde. Il ne s'inquiètes pas des osties de NIMBY's!!! New York Times November 15, 2007 ARCHITECTURE Next to MoMA, a Tower Will Reach for the Stars By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF A rendering of the Jean Nouvel-designed tower to be built adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art. The interior of Jean Nouvel’s building, which is to include a hotel and luxury apartments. Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building, William Van Alen’s Chrysler Building, Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building. If New Yorkers once saw their skyline as the great citadel of capitalism, who could blame them? We had the best toys of all. But for the last few decades or so, that honor has shifted to places like Singapore, Beijing and Dubai, while Manhattan settled for the predictable. Perhaps that’s about to change. A new 75-story tower designed by the architect Jean Nouvel for a site next to the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown promises to be the most exhilarating addition to the skyline in a generation. Its faceted exterior, tapering to a series of crystalline peaks, suggests an atavistic preoccupation with celestial heights. It brings to mind John Ruskin’s praise for the irrationality of Gothic architecture: “It not only dared, but delighted in, the infringement of every servile principle.” Commissioned by Hines, an international real estate developer, the tower will house a hotel, luxury apartments and three floors that will be used by MoMA to expand its exhibition space. The melding of cultural and commercial worlds offers further proof, if any were needed, that Mr. Nouvel is a master at balancing conflicting urban forces. Yet the building raises a question: How did a profit-driven developer become more adventurous architecturally than MoMA, which has tended to make cautious choices in recent years? Like many of Manhattan’s major architectural accomplishments, the tower is the result of a Byzantine real estate deal. Although MoMA completed an $858 million expansion three years ago, it sold the Midtown lot to Hines for $125 million earlier this year as part of an elaborate plan to grow still further. Hines would benefit from the museum’s prestige; MoMA would get roughly 40,000 square feet of additional gallery space in the new tower, which will connect to its second-, fourth- and fifth-floor galleries just to the east. The $125 million would go toward its endowment. To its credit the Modern pressed for a talented architect, insisting on veto power over the selection. Still, the sale seems shortsighted on the museum’s part. A 17,000-square-foot vacant lot next door to a renowned institution and tourist draw in Midtown is a rarity. And who knows what expansion needs MoMA may have in the distant future? By contrast the developer seems remarkably astute. Hines asked Mr. Nouvel to come up with two possible designs for the site. A decade ago anyone who was about to invest hundreds of millions on a building would inevitably have chosen the more conservative of the two. But times have changed. Architecture is a form of marketing now, and Hines made the bolder choice. Set on a narrow lot where the old City Athletic Club and some brownstones once stood, the soaring tower is rooted in the mythology of New York, in particular the work of Hugh Ferriss, whose dark, haunting renderings of an imaginary Manhattan helped define its dreamlike image as the early-20th-century metropolis. But if Ferriss’s designs were expressionistic, Mr. Nouvel’s contorted forms are driven by their own peculiar logic. By pushing the structural frame to the exterior, for example, he was able to create big open floor plates for the museum’s second-, fourth- and fifth-floor galleries. The tower’s form slopes back on one side to yield views past the residential Museum Tower; its northeast corner is cut away to conform to zoning regulations. The irregular structural pattern is intended to bear the strains of the tower’s contortions. Mr. Nouvel echoes the pattern of crisscrossing beams on the building’s facade, giving the skin a taut, muscular look. A secondary system of mullions housing the ventilation system adds richness to the facade. Mr. Nouvel anchors these soaring forms in Manhattan bedrock. The restaurant and lounge are submerged one level below ground, with the top sheathed entirely in glass so that pedestrians can peer downward into the belly of the building. A bridge on one side of the lobby links the 53rd and 54th Street entrances. Big concrete columns crisscross the spaces, their tilted forms rooting the structure deep into the ground. As you ascend through the building, the floor plates shrink in size, which should give the upper stories an increasingly precarious feel. The top-floor apartment is arranged around such a massive elevator core that its inhabitants will feel pressed up against the glass exterior walls. (Mr. Nouvel compared the apartment to the pied-à-terre at the top of the Eiffel Tower from which Gustave Eiffel used to survey his handiwork below.) The building’s brash forms are a sly commentary on the rationalist geometries of Edward Durell Stone and Philip L. Goodwin’s 1939 building for the Museum of Modern Art and Yoshio Taniguchi’s 2004 addition. Like many contemporary architects Mr. Nouvel sees the modern grid as confining and dogmatic. His tower’s contorted forms are a scream for freedom. And what of the Modern? For some, the appearance of yet another luxury tower stamped with the museum’s imprimatur will induce wincing. But the more immediate issue is how it will affect the organization of the Modern’s vast collections. The museum is only now beginning to come to grips with the strengths and weaknesses of Mr. Taniguchi’s addition. Many feel that the arrangement of the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries housing the permanent collection is confusing, and that the double-height second-floor galleries for contemporary art are too unwieldy. The architecture galleries, by comparison, are small and inflexible. There is no room for the medium-size exhibitions that were a staple of the architecture and design department in its heyday. The additional gallery space is a chance for MoMA to rethink many of these spaces, by reordering the sequence of its permanent collection, for example, or considering how it might resituate the contemporary galleries in the new tower and gain more space for architecture shows in the old. But to embark on such an ambitious undertaking the museum would first have to acknowledge that its Taniguchi-designed complex has posed new challenges. In short, it would have to embrace a fearlessness that it hasn’t shown in decades. MoMA would do well to take a cue from Ruskin, who wrote that great art, whether expressed in “words, colors or stones, does not say the same thing over and over again.”
  3. Stewart Museum shuts for $4.5-million refit To reopen in 2010; military drills continue The Gazette Published: 9 hours ago The Stewart Museum in the Old Fort on Île Ste. Hélène has closed for 18 months for a $4.5-million renovation program. The museum, which attracts about 60,000 visitors a year, is housed in a 188-year-old building that needs to be upgraded to meet 21st-century standards. "It means bringing the building up to scratch," said Bruce Bolton, executive director of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, which rents the facility from the city. The work will include the installation of elevators, new windows and a sprinkler system. Another $500,000 will be spent to refurbish the permanent collection of artifacts, which hasn't been touched since 1992. The city has leased the property to the Macdonald Stewart Foundation since 1963 for use as a military and maritime museum. In 1985 it became the Macdonald Stewart Museum, and in the '90s became simply the Stewart Museum in the Old Fort. The museum is expected to re-open in May 2010. When it does, it will offer a revised educational program of activities. "In the past we offered quite a few group activities, perhaps too many, so we plan to clean up the act," said Sylvia Neider Deschênes, the museum's communications chief. The museum will be closed, but the military drills in the parade square will continue. "We will not touch the two ceremonial military regiments, the Compagnie franche de la Marine and the 78th Fraser Highlanders," Neider Deschênes said. "That's one program that sets us apart from other museums. We're adamant about keeping them. All the military animation programs will run next summer."
  4. The Montreal Botanical Gardens Has a Stunning Assortment of Plant Posted on May 26th, 2008. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting! by Peter Mason Montreal may be the ideal holiday spot for couples or families. Montreal tourism has grown considerably in over the last few decades. This city gives the visitor a distinctive experience throughout their stay. They will discover a great mix of tradition and enjoyment. Montreal’s tourism industry is certain to provide enchantment to young and old, family and couple, and man and woman. Some of the Attractions - Zoos, Museums and More The Fonderie Darling, a world-renowned art museum, is one of Montreal tourism’s wide assortment of interests which are characteristic to that city. The gallery assists young artists across Canada. For the laugh-seekers, there is the Just for Laughs Museum. This venue documents the lengthy history of national and international comedy. It is certain to be an entertaining time for the whole family. Montreal has countless exciting natural drawing cards such as the Biodome and the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The Biodome houses animals, plants, and greeted its first visitors in 1992. It can even alter the atmosphere to match a any geographical ecosystem. On the other hand, the Montreal Botanical Gardens gives a stunning assortment of 22,000 different plant species and varieties. This globally acclaimed garden is thought to be one of the finest on earth. The gardens offer both international and local plant life. Visit the Zoo Ecomuseum for young kids. The zoo exhibits countless species of animals. It is terrific for smaller children. A larger zoo is known as the Parc Safari, which is an appealing museum and home to more than 700 animals. Alongside the zoo, there is an amusement park and a beach. The Stewart Museum is a grand and appealing place for any history hound. This museum has an exceptional compilation of old maps, antique documents, old-fashioned weapons, navigational apparatus, and old scientific devices. This only describes the permanent exhibits; there are numerous part time displays that are certain to grab your interest. All these attractions show us that now in certain terms that Montreal’s tourism industry has matured and is worthy of world consideration. Places to Stay in Montreal There are a number of fabulous five-star hotels and many cozy bed and breakfasts in Montreal. Up scale tourism, a reason Montreal enjoys so many enchanting hotels. For the same reason the city and environs also benefits from exquisite B&Bs. One of the most admired four-star bed and breakfast is the Sir Montcalm. This high-end bed and breakfast makes available the lavishness of a four star hotel with all the charm of your own home. The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is an elegant five-star hotel that is definitely an unforgettable experience. An exclusive attribute of this hotel is that it joins the underground concourse level to the 30 km underground shopping center. These are only two of the numerous places to stay in Montreal. About the Author: Concentrating on informating about flights to alicante, Peter Mason wrote most often for http://www.alicante-spain.com . His articles on alicante flights can be found on his website . http://thebaron.us/2008/05/the-montreal-botanical-gardens-has-a-stunning-assortment-of-plant/
  5. http://www.citylab.com/navigator/2015/02/play-god-with-this-customizable-miniature-city/385054/?utm_source=SFFB NAVIGATOR Play God With This Customizable Miniature City The 3D-printed buildings are based on architecture in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, and can glow at night. JOHN METCALFE @citycalfe 7:00 AM ET Comments Image Ittyblox Ittyblox Perfect for the urban-planning wonk who wants to build a personal city—or the destructive child who'd like to stomp one to bits—are these tiny, customizable dioramas, which include skyscrapers that can be hacked to glow in the dark. The adult toys, called Ittyblox, are 3D-printed by the New York/Netherlands company Shapeways, and include a variety of constituent pieces. There's this glassy, jet-black Chicago office tower, for instance, and also a cute clump of New York townhouses. Each one has a different footprint, so arranging them to fit the baseplate might require a bit of "Tetris" skill. But don't worry about troublesome zoning issues—you're the god of this Twilight Zone civilization. At least some pieces, like the 1:1000-scale Guggenheim Museum and Tudor City building, are based on real-life structures. And all are cut with fantastic detail. Here's the product description for that Chicago tower: "Because some offices have their sun shades down, there is a variation in window color. The rooftop is detailed with a few air conditioning units." The blocks range from $6 to $93, with multibuilding sets accounting for the more expensive prices; add in $20 for the baseplate plus shipping. Making the buildings glow requires work, though it's probably worth it to the hardcore model fan; some of the windows are cut out and will become illuminated if underlit with an LED. Check out this guide for detailed instructions. sent via Tapatalk
  6. http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Celine+Cooper+Montreal+city+state/9536579/story.html Montreal as its own city-state? BY CELINE COOPER, THE GAZETTE FEBRUARY 24, 2014STORY Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau, left, is applauded by Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, right, and members of the government after he presented his budget speech, Thursday, February 20, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City. Photograph by: Jacques Boissinot , THE CANADIAN PRESS Greetings from Administrative Region 06. What’s that? Oh. You may know it by another name — Montreal, the second largest city in Canada. The economic hub of Quebec. The city that generates approximately 65 per cent of provincial tax revenues. One might assume that buoying a metropolis — investing in the human potential, entrepreneurship and global networking opportunities the city has to offer — would be a central plank in any provincial or federal budget. Then again, one might be wrong. Last Thursday, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau tabled the 2014-15 provincial budget. In his budget speech in the National Assembly, Marceau stated that his government acknowledges Montreal’s unique status as the metropolitan economic engine of Quebec. His budget commits to the renewal of the province’s annual $25-million investment in the city. In anticipation of the 375th anniversary of Montreal in 2017, a total of $125 million is earmarked for four projects: Parc Jean Drapeau, Espace pour la vie, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. But dig a little deeper and things start to ring hollow. For example, there is no detail regarding what Montreal will get back from these investments, or whether these projects may, in fact, increase the city’s operating expenses in terms of security, maintenance or infrastructure. On more pressing challenges facing Montreal, the budget doesn’t go far enough. There is $6 million set aside for fighting homelessness — an urgent concern for many residents of the city. But there is no new money allocated for social housing, public transit or immigrant integration, and no money earmarked for the retention of families on the island of Montreal. To be fair, it seems almost silly to take this budget seriously. No one expects it to be voted on in the National Assembly. Before Marceau had even completed his announcement, the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Liberals had roundly rejected it. Beyond the proposed increase in daycare user fees from $7 a day to $9 by 2015, it is non-controversial and lacking in detail. There are no general tax increases to irk voters. Detailed spending information is conveniently omitted. In short, this is less a budget than a financial framework for an election campaign. With the latest CROP poll putting the PQ into majority-government territory and MNAs headed for a two-week leave on Thursday, many expect an election to be called as early as this week. Either way, Marceau’s announcement gives voters an idea of how Montreal will be positioned symbolically (or not) in the coming electoral campaign. Why does this matter? With half of the province’s population concentrated here (close to 4 million people), our metropolitan area has some serious demographic heft. As Journal de Montréal columnist Benoît Aubin recently pointed out, if Montreal decided to go its own way and become the 11th province of Canada, it would be more populous than all the Atlantic provinces combined. Yet provincial governments across Canada — including Quebec’s — continue to take a relatively flat approach to budgeting. Despite our urbanizing world, cities are still seen as “creatures” of the provinces, just another administrative region on an electoral map — in Montreal’s case, Administrative Region 06. But in the imminent general election campaign, expect to see some pushback. Real acknowledgement of Montreal as Quebec’s metropolis means revising the fiscal arrangement between Quebec and Montreal and negotiating a meaningful devolution of powers from the province to the city. “It’s time a major economic engine of the province and the country is accorded more rights,” as Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was quoted as saying in a Gazette article last week. Interestingly, François Cardinal, a columnist at La Presse, has emerged as one of the strongest, most coherent champions of giving Montreal more power. In an article titled Manifesto for a City State published recently in the journal Policy Options, he writes: “ … what Montreal needs is special treatment, more autonomy and more diverse sources of revenue. In short, it needs a premier who will stand on the balcony of City Hall and proclaim: “Vive Montréal! Vive Montréal libre!” On issues of both economy and identity, cleavages between Montreal and the rest of Quebec have been growing deeper. Although often dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky idea, I’m starting to see an increased momentum behind the idea of Montreal as its own city-state. As we head into an election, provincial parties would wise not to dismiss it out of hand. Twitter:@CooperCeline
  7. Courtesy of Visit Oslo Oslo a great city. I just got back from there. You at least need 2 days there. One thing is for sure, the new museum will be a great addition to all the modern buildings that are there now.
  8. Montreal: Affordable Winter Base for Families The blackboard menu is in French and all around the little cafe, people are chattering in French, nibbling on croissants and sipping cafe au lait. But we're a lot closer to home than Paris. Welcome to Montreal, just a scant hour-long flight or a 370-mile drive from New York, or an hour's drive from the border of Vermont. Most everyone, it seems, speaks English, as well as French, so there's no need for my 16-year-old daughter, Melanie, to practice her French, she says happily. Another plus: Though there are no bargains here for Americans anymore now that the Canadian "loonie" is about the same value as a U.S. dollar, at least we can soak up the foreign ambiance without spending so much in Europe where the dollar is so weak against the Euro. Especially this time of year, you can find hotel rooms starting at $135 a night (http://www.findyourmontreal.com). Mel and I have come to Montreal for a mother-daughter weekend getaway and a look at McGill University, one of four in this oh-so-cosmopolitan city, which visitors can't help but love. Even our taxi drivers wax eloquent about their city - the restaurants! (There are more than 6,000 offering everything from French to Ethiopian to Montreal's famous bagels.) The museums! (There are more than 30. Visit http://www.museemontreal.org for the Montreal Museums Pass.) The theater, dance companies and festivals that go on all year! (There are more than 90, including the popular la Fete des Neiges de Montreal in January.) The shopping! (Simons, http://www.simons.ca, on Montreal's famous Ste-Catherine Street, we discover, is a good bet for young fashionistas on a budget. Such a clean city! So many parks; there are 1,009 of them and scores of green spaces. Let's not forget the 21-mile Underground Pedestrian Network that connects everything from metro stations to restaurants to skating rinks, office buildings, hospitals, libraries and nearly 1,000 retail shops. With ski areas just an hour away, I think, Montreal would prove a good, affordable winter base for families whose members aren't equally passionate about the slopes. Mel and I are ensconced in one of the city's many boutique hotels, the 59-room HotelXIX Siecle (http://www.hotelxixsiecle.com), which was built in a 19th-century bank building just a short walk from the historic cobble-stoned streets of the Old Port on the St. Lawrence River where this city began. And I love that breakfast is included. I promise Mel if she goes with me to the Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal museum of Archeology and History that tells the story of this city from its first Native-American settlers - our next stop will be Ste-Catherine Street where she can shop till she drops at street level and at the three interconnected malls underground. She liked the museum more than she expected - thanks to the terrific multimedia show and its excellent introduction to Montreal, from the first North Americans to the arrival of French settlers in 1642 and then later, the British. The museum is actually built atop authentic archeological remains, enabling visitors to take an underground archeological tour. Models set in the floor reveal how Place Royale evolved through the centuries and the exhibits include displays of artifacts found here, including dice, crockery, old combs and beer caps. Virtual historic figures also pop up to chat about their era. Even kids who hate museums can't help but be intrigued - and leave with a much better understanding of the cultures that have melded to make this city what it is today. Last modified: October 07. 2007 9:33AM
  9. ¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today in Montreal, Canada Thanks to the involvement of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Fototeca de Cuba, and the collaboration of many collectors and museums in the United States, including the MoMA, this exhibition will draw a broad panorama of Cuban art and history. ¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today, which brings together some 400 works of art, will be the first exhibition to showcase the art of this Caribbean island, which Christopher Columbus described as “the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen.” This lively and well-conceived multidisciplinary exhibition will bring together about one hundred paintings, including a huge collective mural produced in 1967 by many artists, two hundred photographs and documents, approximately one hundred works on paper (in particular two collections of pre- and post-1959-Revolution posters), some two hundred photographs and documents, installations and videos, in addition to music and film excerpts. Exhibition Summary - This ambitious exhibition will feature the art of Cuba, an island that has witnessed the twentieth-century’s principal historical events (decolonization, the search for a national identity, wars of independence and the Revolution, the building of political utopias and ideological clashes). Located at the crossroads of Old Europe and the New World, Cuba is a rich cultural terrain: its music and literature are well known outside of the country, but the same cannot be said of its visual arts. The exhibition is divided into five sections: Depicting Cuba: Finding Ways to Express a Nation (1868-1927); Arte Nuevo: The Avant-garde and the Re-creation of Identity (1927-1938); Cubanness: Affirming a Cuban Style (1938-1959); Within the Revolution, Everything, Against the Revolution, Nothing (1959-1979); The Revolution and Me: The Individual Within History (1980-2007). The exhibition’s historical narrative will be told through a selection of significant photographs: from those that have never been shown to the iconic, these pictures will illustrate the chronology of events as recorded by remarkable photographers. Within this account will be images illustrating the major chapters in the history of Cuban art, from the nineteenth-century’s wars of independence through to the uncertainties of the future. Throughout the twentieth century, artists engaged in international discourses sought to define a national identity, Cubanidad. Intermingling a re-examination of its colonialist past and openness to the avant-garde, Cuban artists created a profoundly original art of synthesis (Baroque and academic legacies, Spanish and African roots, Catholic and traditional spirituality). Central to the century and the exhibition, with the presentation of twenty paintings, the landmark work of Wifredo Lam will embody this synthesis. At times a vehicle for collective political action and at times a personal expression vis-à-vis history, Cuban art deals with matters pertaining to a sense of place and the role of the artist in society, issues that outstanding contemporary artists continue to explore in relevant ways. The Curators - The exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art (MMFA) in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA) and the Fototeca de Cuba, Havana. Nathalie Bondil, director of the MMFA, is the general curator of the exhibition, in collaboration with Moraima Clavijo Colom, director of the MNBA, and Lourdes Socarrás, director of the Fototeca de Cuba. The curatorial committee also includes Hortensia Montero Méndez, curator of Cuban art, MNBA; Luz Merino Acosta, technical director, MNBA; Rufino del Valle, curator, Fototeca de Cuba; Iliana Cepero, associate curator, MNBA; Stéphane Aquin, curator of contemporary art, MMFA; and the team of curators of the MNBA. The Catalogue - Under the general editorship of Nathalie Bondil, a 370-page catalogue will be produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Publishing Department. This book, which will include some 450 colour illustrations, is the first publication covering the whole history of Cuban art. It will provide essays by Cuban and international specialists on various aspects of the subject and some 140 biographical notes. It will be published in separate French, English and Spanish editions. Sponsors - In Montreal, the exhibition is presented by Sun Life Financial, in collaboration with METRO. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts wishes to thank Cubana and media partners La Presse and The Gazette. Its gratitude also extends to Quebec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications for its ongoing support. The Museum would like to thank the Volunteer Association of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for its invaluable support. It would also like to thank all its Friends and the many corporations, foundations and people who support its mission. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ International Exhibition Programme receives financial support from the Exhibition Fund of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation and the Paul G. Desmarais Fund.
  10. All in the balance Prix' Art Museum creates art from the landscape with panoramic views Coop Himmelb(l)au has been commissioned for the Art Museum Strongoli in Calabria, the firm's third project in Italy. The museum is not only a cultural center but also understood as a generator for a future development of Calabria, a place for cultural entertainment and recreation. Situated on the top of the “Motta Grande” hill in front of the city, the Art Museum is visible from far away, it's steely form contrasting with the lush green hillside. The new museum houses not only flexible exhibition spaces, but also a small “multi-hall” and a panorama restaurant. The project is a composition of three main elements: the emblematic, coneshaped construction with the entrance is orientated towards the city,Its spiralling ramp which gives access to the exhibition zone makes it is also a spectacular event space, while the cantilevering restaurant at the opposite end of the building offers a panoramic terrace facing the sea in the east. Both public attractors are linked by a two storey exhibition volume. The exhibition areas are determined to be as flexible as possible, supported by underground service facilities accessed via two elevators. The multi-hall can be used as temporary exhibition space, lecture hall, auditorium and cinema or simply as an extension space of the foyer for public events. http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=11366
  11. Visiting the past: Montreal's historic heart Web Exclusive By Chris MillikanChilliwack Times Monday, February 11, 2008 CREDIT: Montreal's old city hall. Chris Millikan photo.History buffs love sauntering along old Montreal's cobbled European-style streets, or wandering her public squares surrounded by grand cathedrals, historic homes and museums. My hubby Rick and I recently joined the curious throng and probed this cosmopolitan city's earliest days. At Musee Pointe-a-Calliere's theatre, a multi-media journey through six centuries kicks off our exploration of Montreal's birthplace between the St. Lawrence and Little St. Pierre Rivers. This innovative three-storey archaeological museum rises sleekly above the original townsite where Paul de Chomedey and 35 French colonists settled in 1642. A stroll through Fort Ville-Marie's subterranean remains reveals traces of the early palisade, first Catholic cemetery, base of the old customs square - even the sights and sounds of a lively market day, circa 1750. And from the third floor open-air lookout, we view panoramic Vieux-Port's busy quayside, nowadays a landscaped 2.5-kilometre linear park complete with flowers, sparkling water fountains and pools. Nearby, Place Royale (now Place d'Youville) developed later atop Little Saint-Pierre River. Here a soaring granite obelisk recalls those plucky settlers beginning new lives on this strategic point of land at the foot of Mount Royal. Two blocks away, an old fire station encloses the Centre d'Histoire de Montreal, a small but charming museum reflecting city history through stories of celebrated personalities. Northward along Rue St-Jacques, the sparkling Trade Centre dwarfs sober financial institutions left from Montreal's early financial Wall Street days, notably the Bank of Montreal, Canada's oldest bank, and the New York Life building, once North America's tallest skyscraper at 10 storeys. Nearby we encounter Cath,drale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, whose unexpected grandeur resembles Saint Peter's in Rome. But here, patron saints of parishes grace the facade. And elaborate interiors reflect new world history, except for the marble altar canopy imitating Bernini's work in St Peter's. In the distance we spot McCord Museum, permanently chronicling Canada's momentous past in McGill University's oldest part. In Place d'Armes, a central monument commemorates Montreal's founders. But the magnificent Basilique de Notre-Dame dominates this historic square, her spectacular interiors sculpted in wood and gold leaf. Inspiring stained glass windows illustrate biblical passages as well as parish history. And for over two centuries, seigneurs resided next door at St-Sulpice Seminary, still topped by a clock from 1701. Stretching from Vieux-Port to Rue Notre-Dame, fine 19th-century townhouses and mansions surround Place-Jacques Cartier. Though Admiral Nelson's monument towers over this cobbled square, it carries the French explorer's name. Once a large public market, Victorian streetlamps, tubs of red and yellow flowers, buskers and artists now create a lively ambience in this hillside square, day and night. Along with locals and hordes of others, we toast Old Port's panoramas from beneath flamboyant red awnings at one of its many sidewalk cafes. At the top of the plaza, Hotel-de-Ville outshines a sombre cluster of early courthouses. From the grand balcony of this City Hall, French President General Charles de Gaulle once shouted, "Vive le Quebec libre!" causing quite a stir during his 1967 visit. Behind, we find remnants of the wall that once stretched three kilometres around old town. Across the street, Chateau de Ramezay awaits; attendants in ruffled blue dresses, white aprons and poke bonnets greet us. Built in 1705 for Montreal's governor, 15 connecting rooms housed his family of 16 children. With remarkable 17th-century artifacts and furnishings this stone, peak-roofed mansion exemplifies the gracious lifestyle of its esteemed residents. Behind the house we wander the French-style Governor's Garden, tranquil and fragrant. Inspired by gardens at Versailles, this spot replicates former seigneurial gardens flourishing with fruit trees, flowers, vegetables and medicinal plants - but on a much smaller scale. "Then, everyone had gardens; large ones like this covered nearly two-thirds of the old fortified town," explains the gardener, harvesting pungent chives, young carrots and emerald sprigs of parsley. Within blocks, dramatized audiotapes guide us through another 19th-century residence. Fashions and authentically restored, lavishly furnished interiors allow peeks into Sir George Etienne-Cartier's influential life and glitzy high society of his day. Fondly remembered as a Father of Canadian Confederation, his considerable achievements also included creation of Quebec's civil code and development of the Grand Trunk Railroad, all documented in his faithfully restored office. Looping back, we pass La Maison Pierre du Calvet from 1725, possibly the most photographed of all the heritage houses. Currently a first rate inn and restaurant, striking wine-red doors and window frames contrast with massive grey rock walls, chimneys and steeply sloped roof. The original homeowner collaborated with rebels during the American Revolution, holding clandestine meetings here with Ben Franklin, an envoy sent in 1775-76. In the same neighborhood - and fondly nicknamed the Sailor's Church - Montreal's oldest chapel is immortalized in Leonard Cohen's Suzanne. Notre-Dame-de-bon-Secours has been a place of pilgrimage since 1665. Mariners believed the 10-metre rooftop Virgin Mary and her glorious angels safeguarded them at sea; some donated tiny ships in appreciation, many of which we notice hanging in the chapel. Up 92 winding steps, we gaze over old town and harbor. Adjacent Ecole Bonsecours school was replaced with a small museum chronicling first teacher Marguerite Bourgeoy's life. A leisurely walk westward takes us past silver-domed Marche Bonsecours, Montreal's major agricultural market for over a century. Restored for its 150th anniversary, her long 100,000-square-foot limestone building has been re-established as a modern marketplace featuring specialty shops, exhibitions and sidewalk cafes. By strolling Montreal's historic streets and acquainting ourselves with early personalities, we traced the development of this little French fur-trading town into today's happening metropolis. Travel Editor Vic Foster's guest this week is freelance travel writer Chris Millikan, who lives in North Delta. Travel the world on the Internet at www.travelingtales.com. http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=94057656-f1c5-4904-ba64-09fcd08d6d56&k=89562
  12. etienne

    Soumaya Museum

    The Soumaya Museum will be a state-of-the-art facility that will house a diverse collection of art when it opens by the end of 2010. While museum buildings tend to opt for maximum functionality, in which case they are basically boxes or containers of art, or they are conceived as iconic buildings that represent a city during a particular historic moment. The Soumaya Museum, however, was conceived as a sculptural buildings that is both unique and contemporary, yet serves to house a diverse collection of international painting, sculpture, and object art from the 14th century to the present, including the world's second biggest collection of Rodin sculptures. From the outside, the building is an amorphous shape that inspires different experiences in each visitor, while inside the museum the varied topology reflects the diversity of the collection of art. The shell of the building is constructed with steel columns of different diameters, each with their own geometry and shape, which offers the visitor a non-linear circulation. There are 20,000 square meters of exhibition space divided amongst five floors, as well as an auditorium, café, offices, store, multi-use lobby and storage space. The top floor is the largest space within the museum, and its roof hangs from a cantilever that creates natural lighting. The façade of the building is made from translucent concrete, a very airy yet solid material that allows light to filter in. LAR / Fernando Romero LAR / Fernando Romero is an architect and entrepreneur that started in Mexico on the year of 2000 as LCM pursuing a new direction in the architectural practice by generating unprecedented spaces, exploring uncharted geometries, developing the use of new materials and applying current building methods, as well as re-thinking the prevailing discourses. The office is continually engaged on international competitions, either by invitation or open participation. Since 2006 LAR (Laboratory of Architecture) is developing projects in the U.S. LAR has been recognized with the following awards: (Global Leader of Tomorrow) in 2002 in the World Economic Forum (WEF), Red Dot Award: best of the best for Bridging Tea House 2006, Bauhaus Award 2005 for Villa S. March 2006, Pamphlet Architecture Prize to Fernando Romero for Translations, SARA Prize (Society of American Registered Architects 2005) for Ixtapa House, International Bauhaus Award 2004, Dessau, Germany. Semifinalist, 2004 Vanceva Design Award, U.S. Winners (Palmas Corporative Building), “If... Then” The Architectural League, Young Architects, New York, U.S., 2004. Winner 1st Prize FX International Interior Design Awards 2003 (Ixtapa House). Dedalo Minosse (Honorific Mention 2005) for Inbursa Headquarters, Miami Biennale 2003 e-Competition: “Possible Futures”, Metropolis Next Generation” with Hyperborder 2050 (book of the border between Mexico and USA) Semifinalist. link
  13. Munch Museum to join Opera House in Oslo's new cultural district Spanish firm Herreros Arquitectos has won first prize in the invited international competition for a master plan of the Bjorvika neighborhood, Oslo, proposing the Munch Museum as the focus. The future complex formed by the Munch Museum MM and the Stenersen Museum Collections is not only to safeguard and disseminate a basic heritage of the history and character of Norwegian culture. The complex is conceived as an institution which is open to the city and highly visible, that “which must be visited many times in a lifetime”, said the spokesperson for Herreros. The project’s spaces include a Leisure Island; Beach Area; Museum Island; Munch Plaza; Library Plaza; Bispekaia Market Square and Housing Courtyards. The Museum building is located at the end of the Pauselkia Peninsula, near the Oslo Opera House, avoiding the cones of perception and ensuring views over the fort from the surrounding mountains are kept. With this position Herreros aim to intensify the tension between the fjord and solid ground, and to avoid the arrogant gesture of placing it frontally. The museum is built as a vertical concrete box of 16 m of free light hermetically sealed except when the program requires opening of spaces. It is built with four 40 cm thick screens which form a prism, the long sides of which require buttresses (60x30cm) every 6m which embrace lightly post-tensioned flagstones. The gap resulting from levelling up the buttresses in order to have exhibition rooms with continuous walls generates an installations chamber which is highly versatile and which runs along the building and ensures exhaustive control of the networks in each room. The proposal as a whole is notably integrated with energy and environmental sensitivity issues. The mass use of water from the fjord as a temperature controlling element in the building is based on the elimination of air conditioning as far as possible, substituting it for an element which is easily treated, subject to work at low temperature and with a minimum waste of energy. http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=11495
  14. Cuban art makes a grand showing in Montreal By Diane E. Foulds, Globe Correspondent | February 3, 2008 MONTREAL - Canada is a great enabler. For years it has served as a virtual way station for travelers, allowing them passage to Havana without running afoul of US travel restrictions. Now it is making possible a journey through Cuban art. The prestigious Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is hosting the most comprehensive retrospective of Cuban art ever held outside Cuba's borders. More than three years in the making, the show surveys some 400 works by more than 100 Cuban artists. More than half of the works were brought from Cuba; the rest are on loan, largely from private collections in New York and Miami and museums, particularly Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art and the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, whose holdings of Cuban art are the world's largest outside Cuba. Paintings and photography dominate, but sculpture, poster art, music, video, magazine covers, installations, films, even cigar wrappers make an appearance, all with the objective of capturing Cuba's elusive national identity, or "cubanida." It is an ambitious task. For historical perspective, the museum has subdivided the show into five categories: colonial art of the 19th century, interwar avant garde, the post-World War II renaissance, revolutionary art after Fidel Castro's rise in 1959, and the caustic conceptualist art that has emerged since 1980. Each section begins with photographic close-ups of the people, conditions, and mood of the era, which is an education in itself. Murder victims slumped on the street, an unsmiling Ernest Hemingway in a bar, prostitutes waiting for customers. Girded with these impressions, you then see the period through an artistic lens. There are dark-haired beauties and strong colors, which you would expect in Caribbean art. Less predictable is the originality of the work, the result, in part, of the island's geographic isolation. The big surprise is how good it is. For Nathalie Bondil, director of the Montreal museum, it was a revelation. Having accepted an invitation to visit Havana's newly renovated Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the French-born art historian was astounded "by the scale and quality of the art," she said. On a whim, she proposed an exhibit. In the three years that followed, Bondil traveled to Havana eight times. Bureaucracy was minimal, she said, as unlike the United States, Canada enjoys good relations with Cuba. But the magnitude of the undertaking raises questions. Why, with Castro ailing, would Cuba roll out such a candid look at domestic achievements, hopes, and disappointments? Could the regime be loosening its grip? The timing was "nothing political," Bondil said. She acknowledged Cuba's current drive to spur tourism, saying more Canadians visit its ocean-swept beaches than any other nationality. Bondil's motive was simple: to take the lid off Cuban culture. To make it happen, Montreal has picked up the tab. The museum has added several pieces to its collection and is keeping the door open for future collaboration. Meanwhile, it is turning the show into a veritable Cuban celebration. Ongoing events include lectures, tours, and a Cuban film festival, including "Strawberry and Chocolate," an Academy-Award-nominated 1995 comedy about homosexuality. A 424-page catalog is being published in English, French, and Spanish. In its five chapters, some artists are given long-deserved recognition, like Marcelo Pogolotti, who produced hauntingly colorful avant-garde work in the interwar years. Authored largely by Cuban scholars, the essays don't mince words. Discussing a contemporary artist's habit of ridiculing political propaganda, for example, Panama-based art critic Gerardo Mosquera laments that political slogans "have reached heights of absurdity comparable to North Korean standards." The subtext is hard to miss. One is the message that there's a lot more to Cuban culture than crumbling facades and 1950s-era American cars. The fact that Canada is hosting the exhibit and not the United States, even though US institutions have larger collections of Cuban art, is a subtle reminder of the price the US public is paying for the embargo. Havana boasts a world-class art academy, an esteemed photography school, and an impressive, if little known, art scene. Little known, that is, except for Wifredo Lam (1902-82), who ranks among the 20th century's leading painters. A whole gallery of the show is dedicated to Lam, a surrealist and Picasso protégé who died in Paris and whose paintings are stylistic hybrids reminiscent of Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, and Wassily Kandinsky. Born to a Chinese father and an African-Cuban mother, Lam spent most of his life deconstructing the Afro-Cuban aesthetic. He lived many years in Europe, but returned to Havana in the 1960s. In 1967 he orchestrated one of Cuba's greatest artistic moments, the collective painting of a massive pro-revolutionary mural. The canvas, a patchwork of images radiating outward in a great spiral, was the handiwork of some 100 Cuban and foreign writers, painters, and intellectuals. Each was assigned a square; number 26 was reserved for Castro, but he never showed up, so the square was left blank. This is the mural's first appearance outside Cuba. One of the show's biggest revelations is how tolerant Castro has been of provocative art. Though dependent on Soviet subsidies, the Cuban leader eschewed Socialist Realism. And though artists were censored and even jailed in the 1980s and beyond, their defiance was not quelled. "Castro was always open to abstract and Pop Art," Bondil said. "It was completely different from the situation in Russia." When the Soviet subsidies vanished, living standards dropped, and works of art became even more politically abrasive, taking aim not only at Castro, but at the United States, too. A display called "Cuba, Island of Fiesta and Siesta," parodies the Cuban stereotypes pervasive in US society. But with Florida only 90 miles away, the US presence remains a constant in Cuban thought. All the more reason to hope that a similar show opens in the States. "I must say that the lenders have been especially touched and happy to collaborate with us on this show," said Bondil in an interview published in the January issue of the museum's magazine. "The passion for Cuban art transcends all borders." Diane E. Foulds, a freelance writer in Burlington, Vt., can be reached at [email protected] http://www.boston.com/travel/getaways/canada/articles/2008/02/03/cuban_art_makes_a_grand_showing_in_montreal?mode=PF
  15. The Bilbao Effect: is 'starchitecture' all it’s cracked up to be? Every struggling post-industrial city has the same idea: hire a star architect (like Frank Gehry) to design a branch of a famous museum (like the Guggenheim), and watch your city blossom with culture. After all, it worked for Bilbao ... didn’t it? Tomasz Kacprzak, chairman of the city council of Łódź, the third-biggest city in Poland, was telling me about the time he met David Lynch. “We went to his house in California,” Kacprzak said. “He loves Łódź. He wants to build us a cultural centre.” (Lynch’s plan for a 90-acre site comprising a film studio, cinema, gallery, offices and bar in an abandoned power plant in Łódź – the city that also inspired the cult director’s film Inland Empire – is expected to open in 2016.) “Actually,” Kacprzak continued, “Lynch’s house is not great. The interior. It is not modern.” “Oh, no,” I said. “Retro? Nineties?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “Eighties. Gehry’s house was much nicer.” “You went to Frank Gehry’s house, too?” This was interesting. We were standing in the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by Gehry. Through the window, in the courtyard, you could make out the back of Jeff Koons’ huge, Edward Scissorhands-style plant sculpture, Puppy. “Yes,” Kacprzak said. “We asked for the Guggenheim in Łódź.” “You wanted Gehry to design a new museum?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “The same.” He swept his arm over the pine, glass and steel that curved above our heads. “You wanted him to build the exact same building?” “Yes,” Kacprzak said casually. “The same. But we would use it for a concert hall.” Much is made of the so-called ‘Bilbao effect’, the idea that attracting a world-class cultural institution – in Bilbao’s case, a branch of New York’s Guggenheim art museum – will put your city on the map, and in turn attract more investment, brands, tourism and cultural energy. This was the first time, however, that I’d heard someone say they wanted to copy Bilbao’s building exactly, swooping metal sheet for swooping metal sheet. “What did Gehry say?” I asked. “He said, ‘OK – but it will very expensive.’” Kacprzak shrugged. “We are a small city.” So, of course, was Bilbao 18 years ago when it rose to fame almost overnight. The fourth-largest city in Spain had lost its former glory as a manufacturing centre: its factories shuttered, its port decrepit. But after Spain joined the EU in 1986, Basque Country authorities embarked on an ambitious redevelopment programme for their biggest city. They drafted in expensive architects to design an airport (Santiago Calatrava), a metro system (Norman Foster), and a footbridge (Calatrava again), and in 1991 landed their biggest fish – the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, which decided to bring a new branch of the legendary Guggenheim Museum to the city, and hired star California architect Frank Gehry to build it. The building was an instant hit. Critics agreed Gehry’s deconstructed meringue of sweeping metal, which opened in 1997, was a work of “mercurial brilliance”. The collection inside, featuring art by Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Anselm Kiefer and Richard Serra, was world-class. The construction even came in on budget, at $89m. What’s more, Bilbao now had a landmark. Visitor spending in the city jumped, recouping the building cost within three years. Five years after construction, Bilbao estimated that its economic impact on the local economy was worth €168m, and poured an additional €27m into Basque government tax coffers – the equivalent of adding 4,415 jobs. More than one million people annually now visit the museum, which became the centrepiece of the Bilbao Art District: a cluster composed of the maritime museum, the fine arts museum and the Sala Rekalde art centre. In 2010, French designer Philippe Starck completed his renovation of a former wine cellar to create the Alhondiga culture and leisure centre (recently rebranded as Azkuna Zentroa). And Zaha Hadid has presented radical plans to redevelop the neglected Zorrozaurre peninsula and turn it into a high-tech residential and cultural island. A struggling city, decimated by the decline of its manufacturing base, had seemingly reinvented itself by – of all things – betting big on culture. Other post-industrial cities noticed. When I told Kacprzak’s story to Maria Fernandez Sabau, a cultural and museum consultant for cities around the world, she sighed. “Yes, many of my clients say the same thing: give us the Guggenheim,” she said. “Often the exact same building! But you can’t just copy it.” Don’t tell that to Abu Dhabi. Possibly in an attempt to buttress itself against the day the oil runs out, the city is building a museum complex called Saadiyat Island, which will feature branches of not just the Guggenheim (again) but the Louvre as well. In Hong Kong, the West Kowloon Cultural District will be home to M+, a new museum of Chinese contemporary art. There are plans for new cultural hubs centred on museums in Mecca, in Tirana, in Belo Horizonte and in Perth, Australia. It’s the same in the UK: Dundee has drafted in Kengo Kuma to build a new V&A Museum of Design, while Liverpool and Margate have welcomed the Tate Liverpool (designed by James Stirling) and the Turner Contemporary (David Chipperfield). Every city, it seems, wants to create the next Bilbao-Guggenheim-Gehry vortex. Praise for this model reached its zenith last month, as mayors, cultural attachés and city representatives descended on Bilbao for the UCLG Cities and Culture Conference. Walking the streets with Kacprzak from Łódź, I could see what the delegates liked so much. The city centre is clean. There are lots of expensive retail shops. “El Fosterito”, the glass-tube metro entrances designed by Foster, are slick and futuristic. And the people seem disproportionately well-off. Presiding over it all, like a monolith of gentrification, is the Guggenheim. Yet despite this icon of culture, the city seems strangely quiet. Where are the local galleries, the music, the graffiti, the skateboarders? Spain’s difficulties with youth unemployment are well-documented, but I expected more twentysomethings in what is regularly billed as a cultural capital. Does the Guggenheim actually encourage creativity in the city, as advertised, or is it a Disneylandish castle on the hill with a fancy name and an expensive entrance fee for tourists and the well-heeled? Is the Bilbao effect to spread culture, or just to spread money? “The Guggenheim put our city on the map, no question. But you also can’t get anything support here unless it’s top-down,” says Manu Gómez-Álvarez, an animated man of around 40 wearing earrings and a black hoodie, who is the driving force behind ZAWP, the Zorrozaurre Art Working Progress, a cultural group based on the Bilbao peninsula that Zaha Hadid proposes to completely redevelop. ZAWP is precisely the kind of cultural organisation that gets praised in megacities like London and New York. It’s a decentralised collective of young artists, theatre-makers, musicians and designers, with co-making spaces in the old industrial buildings of Zorrozaurre and a thriving entrepreneurial atmosphere in their colourful, funky headquarters – which also house a bar, a cafe, a gig space and a theatre. Gómez-Álvarez is leading a movement he calls Meanwhile, which aims to use the still-derelict buildings of the peninsula as temporary sites for plays, gigs, artistic interventions or even just cafes. Every proposal, at every turn, gets the same answer back from the authorities: no. “There’s no support for grassroots culture,” he says. “We waited 20 years before we got any funding from the government at all.” Last year, he says ZAWP finally received a grant – but they still don’t get a permanent home in the new Zorrozaurre, and will almost certainly have to move again. It’s hard to imagine: ZAWP’s premises are huge, stretching through half a dozen buildings and decorated in amazingly elaborate detail. And yet “we are nomads”, says Gómez-Álvarez. I asked Igor de Quadra, who runs Karraskan Bilbao – a network of more than a dozen theatre groups, venues and creative organisations – what he thought of the Guggenheim’s effect. He struggled to frame his words carefully. “It is fine for what it is,” he said at last, “but it gets a lot of attention from people who are just passing through. Events like this [uCLG forum] take up a lot of attention, but don’t leave much behind for Bilbao culture. Frankly, we don’t think about the Guggenheim.” The Guggenheim certainly doesn’t claim to be in the business of fostering local culture, nor would you expect it to. The museum has some Basque art and occasionally runs cultural workshops, but it’s an international art museum, rather incongruously plonked down in northern Spain. (Extreme Basque nationalists didn’t take kindly to its arrival: the week before it opened, ETA killed a police officer in a foiled attempt to bomb the museum.) There are, of course, Basque cultural organisations in the city, such as Harrobia Bilbao, a performing arts group established in a former church in the Otxarkoaga area in 2011, but their presence feels surprisingly marginal in a city that is supposed to be at the heart of Basque culture. “In English Canada, culture’s nice to have – in French Canada, it’s crucial,” says Simon Brault, head of the Arts Council of Canada, talking about a similar dynamic between French-speaking Quebec and the rest of the country. Brault helmed what you might call an “anti-Bilbao effect” – a completely different type of culture-led regeneration in another struggling post-industrial city, Montreal. Brault helped found an open, non-hierarchical cultural network called Culture Montreal, which rather than speaking only to the Guggenheims and cultural superstars of the city, was open to everyday Montrealers – bar owners, teachers, musicians. “An artist just in from Chile would be at the same table as the head of Cirque du Soleil,” he says. The aim wasn’t to secure funding for massive projects, but to put culture at the heart of the city’s regeneration. It was controversial at first. “The cultural groups thought it was a distraction and that what the culture sector needed was more money,” he said. “But within a year, we got what cultural groups had been asking for for 20 years: a seat at the table.” Rather than championing culture only for an elite group of professionals – and asking for money just for the huge institutions – Culture Montreal was better received by city and provincial governments, says Brault. Their goals were less arrogant: to increase cultural access for Montrealers, and to include culture as part of the solution to any civic problems. They achieved this, Brault says, by making everyone feel as though culture was a daily part of everyone’s life, not something for a sophisticated few. “There is definitely room for starchitects, but it’s always better to tap into local culture rather than buy it from outside. You can’t do culture in a city without involving citizens,” he said. So, which is the better way for cities – bottom-up cultural movements or big-ticket splashes? “Of course, there will always be top-down decisions,” Brault said. “The key is to look for a middle ground.” Hadid’s billion-pound redevelopment of Zorrozaurre will be a test for that middle ground in Bilbao. Will its 6,000 new houses, two new technology centres and park genuinely engage with local culture, or will it simply be a flashy area for rich Spaniards looking for a waterfront property? The Bilbao effect might be famous, but it’s here that it could be truly tested. Those cities around the globe hoping a brand-name museum will save them should be watching carefully. “The Guggenheim Bilbao was a rare occurrence,” says museum consultant Maria Fernandez Sabau. “There was an incredible confluence of amazing, talented people. You had a museum that was hungry to expand, available land for cheap, a government with money, an architect itching to make a statement, and a city that desperately needed a new reason to exist. You can’t just buy that.” http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/30/bilbao-effect-gehry-guggenheim-history-cities-50-buildings?CMP=twt_gu
  16. http://www.architectmagazine.com/Architecture/the-best-and-worst-architectural-events-of-2014_o.aspx Voir le lien pour les images BEYOND BUILDINGS The Best and Worst Architectural Events of 2014 Aaron Betsky presents 10 lamentable moments and 10 reasons for hope in architecture. By Aaron Betsky New National Stadium, by Zaha Hadid Architects New National Stadium Tokyo, Japan Zaha Hadid Architects Everywhere this last year, we heard the call for a return to order, normalcy, the bland, and the fearful. Herewith are ten examples, in no particular order, of such disheartening events from 2014—and ten things that give me hope. Reasons to Despair 1. The demolition of the American Folk Art Museum in New York, by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Idiosyncratic both in layout and façade—and absolutely breathtaking. The MoMA monolith keeps inflating its mediocre spaces; I despair and wonder if Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) will be able to rescue it from almost a century of bad and too-big boxes 2. The defeat of Bjarke Ingels Group’s proposals for the Kimball Art Museum in Park City, Utah. The second proposal was already less exciting than the first, an award-winning, spiraling log cabin, but even the lifted-skirt box caused too many heart palpitations for the NIMBYists 3. The protests against Zaha Hadid’s Tokyo Olympic Stadium design, which left the building lumpen and unlovely. At this point, Arata Isozki is right: they should start over 4. The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, leading to the selection of banal finalists 5. President Xi’s call for an end to “weird” architecture. What is truly weird is the amount of mass-produced boxes in which China is imprisoning its inhabitants and workers 6. Prince Charles’ recitation of the kind of architecture that makes him feel good. The ideas are very sensible, actually, but a beginning, not an end [Ed. note: The linked article may appear behind a paywall. Another reporting of Prince Charles' 10 design principles may be found here.] 7. Ground Zero. Actually, almost a farce since it was a tragedy that now has turned into just a dumb and numbing reality 8. The New York Times’ abandonment of serious criticism of architecture 9. The reduction of architecture to a catalog of building parts in the Venice Biennale’s Elements exhibition 10. A proposal from Peter Zumthor, Hon. FAIA, for a new LACMA building that looks as weird as all the other buildings proposed and built there, but is just a curved version of a pompous museum isolated from its site. It is a mark of our refusal to realize that sometimes reuse—of which LACMA’s recent history is an excellent example—is better than making monuments Credit: © Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner Reasons for Hope 1. The addition to the Stedelijk Museum of Art in Amsterdam: a strangely beautiful and effective bathtub Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, by Benthem Crouwel Architekten. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, by Benthem Crouwel Architekten. Credit: © Jannes Linders 2. The renovation of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam—though not its Louvre-wannabe entrance The ribbed, tiled vaults of the Museum Passageway beneath the Gallery of Honor were restored; arched windows overlook the renovated courtyards on either side. The ribbed, tiled vaults of the Museum Passageway beneath the Gallery of Honor were restored; arched windows overlook the renovated courtyards on either side. Credit: Pedro Pegenaute 3. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s plan to go gloriously underground 4. The Smithsonian’s plan to do the same Aerial view of the South Mall Campus with proposed renovations. Aerial view of the South Mall Campus with proposed renovations. Credit: BIG/Smithsonian 5. The Belgian Pavilion exhibition at the Venice Biennale: looking reality in the eyes and making beauty out of it 6. Cliff Richards rollerskating through Milton Keynes in the same; ah, the joys of modernism 7. Ma Yansong’s proposal for the Lucas Museum in Chicago—especially after the horrible neo-classical proposal the same institution tried to foist on San Francisco; though this oozing octopus sure looks like it could use some refinement, or maybe a rock to hide part of it South view. South view. Credit: Lucas Museum of Narrative Art 8. The spread of bicycling sharing in cities like Barcelona and around the world, if for no other reason than that this way of movement gives us a completely different perspective on our urban environment 9. The spread of drones, ditto the above, plus they finally make real those helicopter fly-through videos architects have been devising for years 10. The emergence of tactical urbanism into the mainstream, as heralded by the MoMA exhibition Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities. I hope that shows the way for the next year Aaron Betsky is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects. sent via Tapatalk
  17. I have to agree. Having visited Toronto during the past summer, I strongly feel that they butchered what was a nice building before. If I was a Torontonian, I would be fuming.
  18. (Courtesy of Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of History and Archaeology) :goodvibes:
  19. Published On Wed May 26 2010 Noor Javed The artistic pieces have graced the homes of Mughal emperors, adorned the gardens of Persian palaces and educated the masses of the Muslim world. Soon, over 1,000 years of Islamic art and culture will find a permanent home in Toronto. The groundbreaking for the Aga Khan Museum, the first in North America solely devoted to Islamic art, will take place on Friday near Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. The museum will be built alongside an Ismaili centre and park on a 7-hectare site at 49 Wynford Dr. More than 1,000 Islamic artifacts from China to the Iberian Peninsula will be showcased — with 200 on permanent display — when the museum opens in 2013. The pieces, which come from the collection of the Aga Khan family, already have more air miles than most Canadians. They have been featured in museums around the world from London to Madrid. Before they settle in Toronto, they will be exhibited in Istanbul and five other cities in the Muslim world. The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, will arrive Friday to put a shovel in the ground and give his blessings to the $300 million project “While some North American museums have significant collections of Muslim art, there is no institution devoted to Islamic art,” he said. “In building the museum in Toronto, we intend to introduce a new actor to the North American art scene. Its fundamental aim will be an educational one, to actively promote knowledge of Islamic arts and culture.” The 10,000-square-foot building will be designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, who is also working on the expansion of the United Nations building and Tower 4 at the former World Trade Center site. “This project will help to bridge the clash of ignorance,” said Amyn Sayani, a volunteer with the Ismaili Council for Canada. “This is very much an opportunity for people to dialogue and to bridge different cultures and faiths.” A sampling of the art coming to town: Manuscript of the Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina, Iran or Mesopotamia, c. 1052: This manuscript is considered to be one of the most important collections of medieval medical knowledge in the Islamic world. It was used in the 12th and 13th centuries by medical schools in Europe, almost until the beginning of modern times. The document to be displayed is the fifth book, focusing on drugs and pharmacy. • Emerald green bottle, Iran, Safavid dynasty, 17th century: The Islamic world, mainly due to proximity, has always had close ties to the Chinese world. This bottle was made to imitate Chinese ceramics, in both colour and appearance. • Portrait of Sultan Selim, Turkey, c. 1570: A large album portrait done in watercolour, ink and gold of Sultan Selim II. It was his father, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, who solidified the geographical borders of the Ottoman Empire. Selim was better known for enjoying finer pleasures such as literature, art and wine. Here, he shown by the painter as larger than life, in a luxurious fur-lined and gold garment. • Standard (alam), Iran, 16th century: Made of steel, standards usually decorated bowls used as drinking vessels or food containers for wandering ascetics. This pear-shaped standard contains an inscription which can be read from different angles. The text from top to bottom says: “Ya Allah, ya Muhammad, ya ‘Ali” (“O God, O Muhammad, O Ali).
  20. Despite its abundance of culture, attendance is low. It’s hard to imagine that cosmopolitan Montreal, with its feted music scene, mountains of arts funding, work-to-live inclination and literary sensibility, would place anywhere but at the very top of a list of Canada’s Most Cultured Cities. An even bigger surprise is to find it near the bottom. True, cultural opportunities abound in Montreal. There’s the world-class Montreal Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre Métropolitain, L’Opéra de Montréal, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, a half-dozen music festivals, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Pop Montreal, and no fewer than a dozen museums. “But the index isn’t about whether something exists,” says Paul Cappon, president and chief executive of the Canadian Council on Learning. “It’s about whether people actually use it.” And when you crunch the numbers, looking at how many Montrealers actually went to the ballet, for instance, or visited the McCord Museum of Canadian History last year, the locals look a lot more like rubes than the cultural leaders many in the rest of Canada imagine them to be. Only one in four Montrealers visited a museum last year, compared with nearly half of all Victoria residents. More Winnipeggers Scores:http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/05/20/smart-cities-2010-canadas-most-cultured-cities/ Source:http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/05/20/why-does-montreal-rank-so-poorly/
  21. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette) Great read. I was wondering what was going on. Time to bring the Capital of Canada back to Montreal and make the Capital of Quebec in Montreal! As Obama said "Yes, we can!"
  22. The Grown-Up's Guide to Montreal Attractions h1 = document.getElementById("title").getElementsByTagName("h1")[0];h1.innerHTML = widont(h1.innerHTML);Attractions in Montreal, Canada's Most Sophisticated City By Susan Breslow Sardone, About.com Montreal is the anti-Disney: A sophisticated adult playground, where pleasures for grown-ups -- from savoring fine food and wine, to casino gambling, to boutique shopping, to the spirit of l'amour itself -- add to the city's many attractions. These are among the best for couples traveling free of children. 1. Check into a Top Montreal Hotel Opus Montreal Hotel. 2. Explore Montreal by Land and by Sea Vincent Sardone. The Old Port area of Montreal alongside the St. Lawrence River is one of the most scenic spots to stroll. Couples can also rent bikes; a 220-mile long bicycle path leads cyclists in and around Montreal. And the city has more than one thousand parks. For utterly romantic transportation, hire a caleche (horse-drawn carriage). Any time of year, explore the underground city on foot. Want to sail on the water? Amphibus provides a land-and-sea city tour in the same floating vehicle to help you get your bearings. (To avoid family groups, come late in the day.) Montreal's long and slender Le Bateau Mouche boats run day tours teeming with kiddies; dinner cruises provide a better opportunity to surround yourselves with grown ups. 3. Savor Epicurean Delights Like to cook, or just eat? Epicier is Montreal's new gourmet store-and-restaurant where couples can find delicacies that include parmesan oil, maple vinegar, and ginger jam. And La Vieille Europe stocks more than 300 different kinds of cheeses along with cold cuts, breads, and everything else you might need to take on a picnic. 4. Shop for Montreal Treasures Plan to leave extra room in your suitcase to pack the treasures you pick up in Montreal: The sweetly intoxicating ice wine, genuine maple syrup from the countryside, Fruits & Passion products for the skin and bath, Roots leather goods. And if you like to wear hard-to-find labels, along rue Ste-Catherine you can find the city's top department stores. Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy's, and Hudson's Bay Company carry Canadian, French, and international brands as well as ones familiar to United States shoppers. 5. Dine Like a Montreal Gourmet Montreal is home to some 5,000 restaurants. These include cozy French bistros in the Old Port where couples can linger over a bottle of wine to Little Italy spots where you can bring your own. Everyone stops by Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen at least once to sample the city's world-famous smoked meat. And gourmets won't leave the Beaver Club in The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth disappointed. Coming to propose marriage, or something more provocative? Reserve a spot at the historic, much-photographed, circa-1725 Pierre du Calvet in the heart of Old Montreal. The building housing it contains opulent, Victorian-style rooms, so you need not go far if someone swoons -- or agrees to be seduced. 6. Take a Tango Lesson Did you know Montreal is tango-crazy? (Why would you?) The city even has an annual Tango Festival that features the world's best practitioners of this sexy dance. Regardless of when you visit, though, Montreal's tango parlors are open for business, offering classes for couples and milonga demonstrations for appreciative spectators. 7. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica No visit to the Old Port is complete without stepping inside the magnificent nineteenth-century Notre-Dame Basilica, completed in Gothic Revival style. The soaring interior, in addition to its intricate carving, includes brilliantly hued stained-glass windows. Rather than ancient biblical scenes, each these depict the religious history of Canada, complete with images of the faithful forging through the icy wilderness. 8. Admire Montreal's Museums Vincent Sardone. While family visitors explore Montreal attractions such as the Biodome and Insectarium, you can get an adult fix of fun at the city's eye-opening and thought-provoking museums. Among the top ones: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collects and displays European art, Canadian art, Inuit and Amerindian art, contemporary art and decorative arts. Connected to the underground city, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art features new and conceptual art and stages multimedia events, including performance, experimental theatre, video, and film. Château Ramezay Museum, in the Old Port area, is a small history museum that features paintings and objects from Montreal's past in a circa-1705 stone building. 9. Try Your Luck at Casino Montreal Shaped like a multi-deck ship moored at the former Expo 67 site across from the Old Port, the unique Casino Montreal operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's a short cab ride from the city center. Games such as blackjack, roulette, poker, keno, pai gow, and baccarat, familiar to any English-speaking gambler, are conducted in French. (How much more elegant it is to hear "égalité!" at the 21 table than, "That's a push.") Dealers, croupiers, and many players are bi-lingual, so if you want to bet or ask a question in English, you will be understood. Naturally, all bets are made with Canadian currency, and cashiers will readily exchange US dollars. 10. Come to One of Montreal's Amazing Festivals Montreal Jazz Festival Passionate people who love music, laughter, movies, fast cars, and more circle their calendars in anticipation of their favorite festival in Montreal. The Montreal Jazz Festival is considered the world’s biggest and best of its kind. It takes place from late June through the first week of July, showcasing more than 2,500 artists in 500-plus concerts from noon to midnight. Also held in the summer, Just for Laughs, the Montreal Comedy Festival attracts world-class comedians and fresh talent. Several hotels offer packages that include accommodations, admissions, dinner, and personal assistance throughout the stay. And at the end of the summer, Montreal's World Film Festival gives lovers one more reason to cuddle in the dark. http://honeymoons.about.com/od/allaboutmontreal/tp/montreal_attractions.htm
  23. Montreal church stands as mariners' rock A view westward, toward the core of downtown Montreal, from a tower of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel in the Old Montreal district. The Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum is adjoined to the church. (Marcos Townsend for the Boston Globe) By Patricia Harris and David Lyon, Globe Correspondents | May 9, 2007 MONTREAL -- Poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen was hardly the first Montrealer to gaze fondly on the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours when he wrote "the sun pours down like honey / on Our Lady of the Harbour" in his pop hit "Suzanne." While the statue of the "Lady" wasn't erected until 1893, homecoming mariners have watched for the welcoming visage of the Old Port church since the first wooden chapel was erected on the spot in 1655. Although the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it is equally a monument to its founder, Marguerite Bourgeoys , who was born in France in 1620 , became known as "the mother of the colony," and was ultimately canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1982 . In an era when most women rarely left their villages, Bourgeoys crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times in her mission to educate the women of Montreal and raise money in her homeland to support the Congrégation de Notre-Dame , the religious order she founded. Just as Bourgeoys's legend became ever more expansive over the years, so did the church. She persuaded the community to rebuild it in stone in the late 1670s , and when that church burned in 1754 , it was replaced with the stone structure that stands today. In 1893 it sprouted a central tower topped with the nearly 20-foot-high open-armed statue of "Mary, Star of the Sea," flanked by two herald angels. The single-vault chapel's intimacy contrasts sharply with Montreal's more bombastic churches, and ship models suspended from the ceiling as ex-votos for voyages survived identify the church as the mariners' own. With the rapid secularization of Montreal (the Catholic Church dominated education, health care, and social services through the 1960s), public recognition of Bourgeoys has declined. But she remains one of the rocks on which the city was built, and the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum , attached to the chapel, memorializes her accomplishments. The exhibits evoke an intimate vision of the early years of Montreal. Visitors can inspect the original foundations of the early chapels and view artifacts exhumed during archeological work here in the 1990s . Cracked blue and white porcelain cups and plates, discarded belt buckles, and broken pipes seem to conjure up their long-ago owners, who were determined to maintain the veneer of civilization in the distant wilds. They never stopped thinking of themselves as French, as the green glass wine bottles attest. The tour winds up a 69-step staircase to the 19th-century tower. Walls along this level's open walkway are lined with images of the St. Lawrence River and the port of Montreal in 1685 . For a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, turn and look outside to see people strolling and cycling along the modern-day Old Port promenade while the grand geodesic dome of the Biosphère shines in the distance. Another 23 steps lead up to the belvedere, where visitors are suddenly almost face to face with the herald angels and the broad expanse of the modern city extends down the waterfront to the horizon. By 1668 , Bourgeoys had moved her religious order from the center of the town to a rural farm on Pointe St-Charles near the Lachine rapids , a short bike ride or bus trip from Old Montreal. Bourgeoys originally taught the women of the colony to read, but soon expanded her activities to include schools for surrounding First Peoples villages and the care of the "filles du roy," the young women given dowries by Louis XIV and sent to the colony to marry and multiply. The old stone farmstead, Maison St-Gabriel , now functions as a heritage museum of 17th-century rural life with a focus on the filles du roy, who still loom large in Quebecois legend. Often recruited among the urban poor, many of the women lacked even rudimentary skills for colonial life. Tours in English and French by guides in 17th-century garb focus on the transformation of the filles du roy into sturdy colonists. Their re-created period vegetable gardens underline the need for self-sufficiency. The property's 19th-century fieldstone barn holds temporary exhibitions, such as "An Iron in Time," which opens this month. It recounts the evolution of clothes-pressing, lest there be any doubt about the hard work of women in New France. When Marguerite Bourgeoys died in 1700 , she was interred on the farm. But in 2003 , the 350th anniversary of her arrival in Montreal, her remains were placed in the left side altar of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours below the statue she had brought back from France in 1672. Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel 400 rue St-Paul Est, Montreal 514-282-8670 marguerite-bourgeoys.com Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. May-October, 11-3:30 November-mid-January and March-April. Adults $5.10, seniors and students $3.40, family $10.20. Maison St-Gabriel 2146 place Dublin Pointe-St-Charles 514-935-8136 maisonsaint-gabriel.qc.ca Tuesday-Sunday 1-5 p.m. April 15-June 23 and Sept. 4-Dec. 21, 11-6 June 24-Sept. 2. Adults $6.80, seniors $5.10, students $3.40. Patricia Harris and David Lyon, freelance writers in Cambridge and authors of the "Compass American Guide: Montreal," can be reached at [email protected] © Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
  24. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/arts/design/03darc.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&ref=arts&pagewanted=print February 3, 2008 Art It’s Not Politics. It’s Just Cuba. By DAVID D’ARCY IMAGES of boats and the horizon are a relative constant in Cuban art. For Cubans they’re often an expression of longing for life beyond a geographically and politically enclosed space. For the rare Americans who ever see Cuban art, the images can be a reminder of a place they are forbidden to visit. For the next five months, witnessing at least one aspect of Cuba will in theory be a bit easier for Americans. “¡Cuba! Art and History from 1868 to Today,” an exhibition that just opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, offers more than 400 images and objects from the island that Christopher Columbus is said to have called “the most beautiful land that eyes have ever seen.” Many of the paintings were lent by the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana with encouragement from Cuban officials who want to promote the notion of Cuban culture, said Moraima Clavijo Colom, the museum director. “That Cuba was not just a place of sun, beaches, rum and dancing,” she said in a telephone interview. It may seem provocative to dangle this forbidden fruit near the border of the United States, whose citizens can face fines for traveling to Cuba under the latest version of a 46-year-old trade embargo. But Nathalie Bondil, the director of the Montreal museum and the curator of the exhibition, said: “It’s not a political show. It’s just a show.” She declined to speculate on whether any museum in the United States could cooperate legally on such a scale with a comparable Cuban institution. “It’s not a question,” she said. “Canada is a different country.” Canada is one of Cuba’s most important trading partners, and Canadians make up the largest group of tourists who visit Cuba, she said, “so Cuba is an obvious partner for us.” Still, given Cuba’s history, any exhibition of work produced there seems to become a show about Cuba and Cuban identity. The date of 1868 was anything but arbitrary, Ms. Bondil noted: it was the year in which Cubans in the town of Bayamo first declared independence from Spain. And by including “art and history” in the exhibition title, the curators also signal that the subject of much Cuban art is Cuba and Cubans. “Cuban art cannot escape the necessary negotiation with the historical situation in which it occurs — that seems to be the defining element,” said Stéphane Aquin, the Montreal curator who selected the works made after 1959. “The best that I’ve seen of Cuban art is always negotiating its space or reacting to its historical condition.” Like any survey of art and history in a Western country, this one rolls through landscape painting, portraiture and genre scenes, beginning with folkloric images of Afro-Cuban rural life. (Slavery was not banned in Cuba until 1888.) Yet two mediums help to set Cuba and this exhibition apart from other marches through history. Photographers have documented Cuban life since the middle of the 19th century, and some 200 photographs lent by the Fototeca de Cuba in Havana guide visitors from the 1860s to the present. Among them are Walker Evans’s grim images of Havana street life, included in Carleton Beals’s 1933 book, “The Crime of Cuba,” a lament for ordinary people living under the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado y Morales (1925-1933). There are also abundant images from an inventive graphic arts industry that advertised to a growing consumer population in the 1920s and 1930s, deploying the new vocabularies of Modernism and Surrealism. Cuba’s vibrant poster culture was so strong that it survived the transition to one-party Communism after Fidel Castro’s takeover in 1959. Yet if there is a star to be celebrated in this show, it is not Mr. Castro but Wifredo Lam, born in 1902 of Chinese and Afro-Cuban parents. He traveled to Europe to study art in 1923, joined André Breton’s Surrealist circle, fought in the Spanish Civil War and painted in a Surrealist style that caught Picasso’s eye with its use of African imagery, which resembled forms that Picasso borrowed earlier in the century. Picasso was much quoted as saying: “He’s got the right. He’s a Negro.” Back in Cuba in 1942 as a refugee from the Nazis, Lam caught the eye of Alfred H. Barr Jr., director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Although Lam steered clear of Barr’s 1944 exhibition “Modern Painters of Cuba” for fear of being labeled a “Cuban painter” — he showed at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York instead — MoMA acquired Lam’s large 1943 canvas “The Jungle,” a thicket of vegetal fronds and human-animal figures in dark greens, now considered his masterpiece. MoMA is not lending “The Jungle” for the show because of its fragility but contributed “Mother and Child II” (1939), one of 14 paintings by Lam on view. Lam’s family, one of the largest holders of his works, did not lend pictures to the exhibition. Reached by telephone at his home in Paris, Lam’s son Eskil, 46, said that Ms. Bondil sought his advice on the exhibition but no loans. He said that he had not read the exhibition catalog, which includes two essays on his father and another on a collective mural that his father played a role in conceiving and painting. He chuckled at the title of one essay, “Lam: A Visual Arts Manifesto for the Third World.” “It’s always complicated with Cuba,” he said. “With Cuba there’s always an ideological supervision. I wouldn’t say control, but supervision. They want to make sure that what is being said, or the message put forth in a foreign exhibition, doesn’t go against today’s Cuba.” “My father supported the revolution when it took place,” Mr. Lam noted, adding, “I would say that my father was a humanist more than anything else, and that his participation in or his enthusiasm for the Cuban Revolution was definitely one from the 1960s, for a movement of emancipation of liberation more than as an ideological communist venture.” Lam remains the through-line of the Montreal show, even though he left Cuba in 1946 and never lived there full time again. The exhibition’s centerpiece is “Cuba Colectiva,” a gigantic 1967 mural on six panels that was initially conceived by Lam and created by 100 Cuban and European artists for the Salon de Mai, an annual exhibition. Although artists were making “collective works” in the United States and Europe at the time, often in protest of the Vietnam War, this mural was a tribute to a romantic view of Cuban Socialism that inspired many Europeans artists at the time. The huge mural traveled the following year from Cuba to France, where curators said it was taken off display after a few hours to avoid damage in the May 1968 student uprising. Back in Havana, it was eventually placed in storage. When the museum was emptied in 1999 for renovation, the mural and its frame were found to have been invaded by termites. Without money to restore it, the Cubans found a Parisian dealer to underwrite the job, and the mural is being shown for the first time outside Cuba since its conservation. Like the mural, much Cuban art since 1959 has been in the service of the Castro regime, either in Socialist-Realist styles through the 1970s (when Russians taught in art academies there) or in a Pop Art style adapted to official portraiture of figures like Mr. Castro and Che Guevara. “It’s a Pop form of vocabulary — the flashy colors, the bright letters, said Mr. Aquin of the Montreal museum. “They were taking the Pop aesthetic and functionalizing it.” Less functional ideologically are works made by contemporary artists who are beginning to find markets abroad after years during which their only client was the state. In the 1980s and ’90s, as Soviet aid dried up, art materials were particularly scarce, and mixed-media artists like Alexis Leyva (Kcho) and the duo, Los Carpinteros ( all represented in the Montreal show) constructed work from whatever they could scavenge. It was a new Cuban hybridization: a mix of found objects and Arte Povera. “I bought a sculpture, and I asked the artist if he could put it in bubble wrap for me,” said Howard Farber, an American collector. “He didn’t know what I was talking about.” While most Cuban artists struggle, some are thriving, like Carlos Garaicoa, who takes photographs of empty sites where buildings once stood in Havana and then constructs the former structures in delicate thread atop the pictures. Mr. Garaicoa, 40, has had solo exhibitions in the United States that included his large installations of sculptural urban ensembles — he calls them “utopian cities” — but he has not been granted a visa to enter the country. One of his clusters is the final installation in the Montreal museum’s show. Mr. Garaicoa’s dealer, Lea Freid of Lombard-Freid Projects, suggested that this softly illuminated city in miniature could be an image of a place awaiting Cubans one day after the death of Mr. Castro, or after the end of the United States embargo. She said it was no surprise that Mr. Garaicoa’s work is celebrated in Montreal. “I think there is a connection, an affection and an ongoing relationship on all levels that doesn’t occur here,” she said. Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company