Official Opening on November 9, 2016
THE GIFT OF A PRICELESS COLLECTION SPARKS
The Construction of a New Wing for the MMFA
"To welcome this outstanding donation and reinstall its collections of European paintings and sculptures in a coherent manner, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has decided to expand its premises yet again. The empty spaces that will be left on the Hornsteins’ walls by these paintings, which were their life-long companions, bear eloquent witness to the generosity of the donors and the philanthropy of North America’s great art patrons, who contribute to the enriching of their museums.”
L’OBJET D’ART, Paris
He then went into hiding in Budapest until the Russian army arrived in 1944. Michal then escaped to Bratislava, where he met his future wife. Renata Witelson was born in Lodz, Poland. She was just a young girl when her family took refuge in Warsaw at the beginning of the war. When her parents were imprisoned, Renata fled to Cracow and went on to join her uncles in Budapest. To avoid Nazi persecution, she set off again, this time in the direction of Bratislava. That’s where she met Michal, who had sought refuge among loved ones. Following the end of the war, in 1946, the couple started life anew in Rome, the city where they wed. Enchanted by the art, particularly that of the Dutch and Italian Old Masters, Renata decided to study art history and visited the museums almost daily. It was she who urged her husband to start collecting art.
In 1951 the couple immigrated to Montreal. Michal Hornstein went into business, founding Federal Construction Ltd, a real-estate company of apartments and shopping centres which he has been president of since 1952. A discerning art collector, he has been involved with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) since 1970, initially as a member of tthe Board of Trustees. He then became Vice-president of the Museum in 1979 and Chairman of the Acquisition Committee for European Art before 1900 in 1982. For over forty years Michal and Renata Hornstein have shown tremendous generosity towards the MMFA, donating a number of masterpieces by Old Masters and offering financial help for the acquisition of important works. In acknowledgement of their numerous contributions, the couple were chosen to be the first Great Citizens of Montreal in 2012. Michal Hornstein became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1984, a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec in 1993, an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2002 and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in June 2013.
In 2012, Michal and Renata Hornstein donated their remarkable collection of Old Masters to the Museum. Envied by art experts and institutions around the world, this gift, evaluated at over $75 million, constitutes the most important and valuable private collection ever donated to a Quebec museum. Indeed, it would impossible to acquire such an extensive collection today.
The strength of this collection, which covers several centuries from the Renaissance to the dawn of modern art, lies in a remarkable group of works from the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish paintings (17th century). Some of the greatest names of that period are represented, from small panels and intimist canvases to monumental compositions over two metres high. The collection is notable not only for the range of artists and styles represented but also for the quality of the works and their excellent state of conservation.
The artists represented include: the Mannerist painters of the Renaissance (Herri met de Bles and Cornelis van Haarlem); the 17th- century masters of genre painting (David Teniers the Younger, Quiringh van Brekelenkam and Pieter Codde); the portraitists (Willem van Mieris and Caspar Netscher); the masters of Dutch and Flemish landscape (Jan van Goyen, Jacob van Ruisdael, Allart van Everdingen and Joos de Momper); the painters of architecture (Jan van der Heyden and Hendrick van Steenwijck) and seascapes (Simon de Vlieger, Willem van de Velde the Younger and Ludolf Backhuysen); the Italianate landscapists (Jan Asselijn, Claes Berchem, Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Cornelis van Poelenburgh); the still-life masters of the Netherlands (Willem van Aelst, Pieter Claesz, Abraham van Beyeren, Adriaen Coorte and Floris van Schooten) and Flanders (Osias Beert, Jan Fyt and Christiaan Luykx); a rare and valuable panel by the Dutch primitive Adriaen Isenbrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, a masterpiece by Jan Steen: and the rare and superb portrait by Jan Lievens entitled Elderly Scholar in His Study. Other schools are also represented, including a major work by the French 17th-century master Claude Lorrain, the Venetian rococo artists Rosalba Carrierra, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and Francesco Zuccarelli, as well as Claude Joseph Vernet, the great French seascape
painter of the 18th century.
To house this collection, the Museum will open a pavilion of international art and education, to launch Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations and the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
THE COLLECTIONS IN THE MICHAL AND RENATA HORNSTEIN PAVILION FOR PEACE
600 Works of International Art on 4 Levels
The works of the Hornstein donation will be incorporated into the existing collection both chronologically and thematically. Thus, 600 works of international art will be presented on four levels of the building, while Ben Weider’s Napoleonic collection, currently displayed in separate galleries, will also be integrated into the layout of the pavilion in a fluid and coherent manner.
By virtue of its size, variety and quality, the MMFA’s collection of international art is unique in Quebec and one of the three largest in Canada. The presentation of the international art holdings in the new pavilion will enable the Museum to display the breadth and depth of one of Canada’s outstanding collections, which covers the high points of civilization: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the age of the Baroque, the Dutch Golden Age, Classicism, the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Academicism, from the Napoleonic period up to Impressionism and modern art.
With its 1,430 paintings, sculptures, miniature portraits, drawings and prints, the collection boasts masterpieces by Boucher, Bouguereau, Pieter Bruegel the Younger, Canaletto, Emanuel de Witte, El Greco, Fantin-Latour, Gainsborough, Goya, de Largillierre, Mantegna, Poussin, Rembrandt, Gerard ter Borch, Tiepolo, Tissot and Veronese.
These major artists represent the principal styles and periods of the history of art between the Middle Ages and the mid-19th century: Romanesque and Gothic art; the art of the Renaissance; Mannerism; Caravaggism; vanitas works; the Baroque; the Dutch Golden Age; France and Classicism; the Rococo; Neo-classicism; British portraiture; Romanticism; academic art and Orientalism. One of the strengths of the collection lies in the 138 Dutch and Flemish 17th-century paintings, which make the MMFA an important repository of works from the rich artistic context of the Dutch Golden Age.
The Reinstallation of Collections in the Other Pavilions
The Museum’s collections were studied and reinstalled in 2001 and 2011 prior to the opening of the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art. In the wake of this new expansion, the MMFA will undergo a major transformation. Thousands of works will be moved and reinstalled in the various pavilions in a domino effect generated by the advent of a fifth pavilion. They will be displayed in spectacular exhibition spaces where visitors will be able to admire the Museum’s masterpieces from a new viewpoint.
Each collection will be reinterpreted in terms of the connections between the different forms of art – painting, sculpture, design, photography, the graphic arts and music. Multidisciplinarity is now a major factor in the Museum’s projects: it constitutes a fundamental aspect of the layouts both for the exhibition of the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions. Transversality – placing works of contemporary art in relation to early works – is another guiding principle of the Museum’s approach to gallery design. It should be noted that the collection of Quebec and Canadian art will remain unchanged. It was reinstalled in the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion in 2011. The same is true of the layout of the contemporary art collection, which was recently redesigned.
EDUCATION AND WELL-BEING
Exponential Growth in Demand Leads to New Projects
Since the Studios Art & Education Michel de la Chenelière opened in September 2012 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), attendance to our programmes has doubled, from 100,000 to 200,000 children, families and community groups interested in exploring our collections and temporary exhibitions and taking part in one-of-a-kind activities.
Overall, this initiative will reinforce the Museum’s role as a community leader in the fields of the visual arts and education and will strengthen its partnerships with over 400 community organizations that work with the elderly, at-risk youth, low-income families and people with mental-health challenges or physical or intellectual disabilities.
A pavilion for peace
The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace will allow us to pursue the Museum’s social mission and build bridges within the community.
“It is a strong message of peace, consistent with the image of the city itself, which has given refuge to so many people from around the world, and also of peace for the soul that the Museum wishes to bring to its hundreds and thousands of visitors, including children, families, people in pain and isolated…” Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the MMFA.
Architecture and Urban Design
of the cité muséale
"Each of the Museum’s pavilions evokes its own period and offers a commentary on the role played by the institution in society. The concept we are proposing facilitates the introduction to the artworks and their setting by offering visitors a more personal and yet more participatory experience through the design of inter-gallery spaces that offer visitors the opportunity for a shared cultural encounter."
Manon Asselin, architect
A Majestic Showcase of Canadian Know-how
Stone and Aluminum Lacework, and Wooden Event Staircase
The Museum’s pavilion of international art and education will be built on Bishop Street, to the south of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion and linked to the latter by an aerial bridge over the alleyway. It will comprise an entrance for adult, school and community groups that will contribute to the liveliness of Bishop Street. It will be clad in stone and aluminum lacework designed to make it fit in with the Victorian heritage architecture adjacent to it. Beneath this surface, the building will appear as a unique, coherent and graceful structure that will look different with every change of daylight. After sunset, it will take on its nocturnal persona.
The light from the galleries will emit a soft background glow that seems to dissolve the stone lacework, rendering visible the activity taking place in the event stairway and revealing to the city the warmth of the wood interior. Through this fretwork, visitors will perceive the multiple functions of the lobby and the vertical transition space between the liveliness of the street scene and that of the museum space.
The event stairway will not be just a device for efficient circulation but first and foremost a "slow" space designed for loitering. The concept shows a real concern for durable development and respect for the built heritage with the use of local stone from the Beauce and aluminum from Quebec. After a rigorous two-part selection process, the jury of the architectural competition unanimously chose Manon Asselin Architecte of L’Atelier TAG in consortium with Jodoin Lamarre Pratte Architectes for the design of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace.
An Architectural Model Already Recognized by International Experts
While the construction of the fifth pavilion goes full speed ahead, the consortium of Manon Asselin (Atelier TAG) and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte Architectes is already garnering awards for its design!