Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going Public: Two Fun Museum-Outreach Shows in MTL

Just wanted to post a quick note about two fun public-art installations I saw a couple of museums take on in Montreal. These really impressed me with the way they extended the institution into the public (or in the case of a mall, semi-public) sphere.

1) After Notman, coordinated by the McCord Museum, on McGill College Avenue to October 18
True confession: I have never been to the McCord Museum. Call me a Canadian-history idiot, 'cause it's true. But I loved this outdoor exhibition installed on mini-billboards on the pedestrian-trafficked McGill College Avenue. In it, the museum shows photos of Montreal in the 1800s by famed photographer William Notman alongside photos of the same places today. The angle and framing of the contemporary shots are almost exactly the same as Notman's and the result is the ability to see how familiar streetscapes looked in another era--while you're in the streetscape! Nice. This is a super idea that I think other cities should take up--should they be so lucky as to have the archive of a rabid 19th-century urban documentarian such as Notman, er, that is... Overall, not the easiest thing to arrange for those aforementioned reasons, but a highly enjoyable and publicly accessible show.

2) Le Musee Sort Ses Griffes by the Musee du costume et du textile de Quebec at les Ailes de la Mode Eaton Centre to October 3.
OK, so how come I have never seen a textile and costume exhibition in a shopping mall before? Huh? Are curators just afraid of the word "synergy"? Do they fear getting Orange Julius grime on their plinths? (OK, I can actually see being concerned by both of these things.) Nevertheless, this exhibition was a delightful surprise--a quite large show about contemporary fashion designers set in one of Montreal's large downtown malls. There were vintage stuffs from Expo 67 here as well as really recent designs. And there was also a lot of supplementation in-situ with video and text. Great idea! Again, I'd love to see it happen in more Canadian cities. But until then, yeah, I'll take an occasional hit of Marielle Fleury while I'm enroute to Mrs. Fields. No problem!

(Image is my bad cellphone photo of the After Notman installation)


planforamiracle said...

Neat! I remember seeing this site during my visit to Le Mois de la Photo last September. I can't remember what the images were (I want to say historic Montreal?). I mainly remember being struck by the genius of using the neighbouring panels as stereo-viewers— how clever!

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Plan for a Miracle! Thanks for your comment. I think you're maybe thinking of another cool outdoor installation... one of my other friends talked about it too when I mentioned this one to her. I don't think these were stereoscopic, and they definitely weren't in Old Montreal. I just tried looking online for more info on the one you're thinking of, but couldn't find. Any luck yourself?

Chris 'Zeke' Hand said...


While Cambridge owns both Les Ailes de la Mode and The Eaton Centre, they are two very different shopping Centres - and Behind the Seams is not at Les Ailes de la Mode but in fact the Eaton Centre.

Leah Sandals said...

Zeke! I shop corrected! Sorry folks! Will correct the post.