The Museum in 2015
Delving into the creative process
These words aptly characterize the MMFA’s approach in 2015. We will be presenting three major exhibitions that the Museum is producing and circulating: Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism: From Spain to Morocco, Benjamin-Constant in His Time; Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio; and 1920s Modernism: The Beaver Hall Group, Montreal. The year 2015 at the Museum will be all about the creative process, from the fantasy and spectacle of Orientalism to the secrecy and innovation in Rodin’s studio and the freedom women artists experienced through their association with Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group.
Reflecting on important social issues
The Museum is continuing its social and educational involvement, in association with contemporary artists, by presenting educational exhibitions that explore racism, the environment, feminism and homophobia – a host of thought-provoking topics to reflect on. On display in the Museum’s galleries: the moving series “Mégantic” by the socially engaged Quebec photographer Benoit Aquin; the first Montreal retrospective of the feminist painter Marion Wagschal; the first exhibition of the young American painter Michael Williams; America in the 1950s and 1960s as seen through the lens of George Zimbel, a photographer who moved to Canada during the Vietnam War; and lastly, an amazing experimental musical aviary – imagine a flock of fifty finches playing an electric guitar! – from here to ear by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, guest artist of the French Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Construction of the Pavilion for Peace
Last but by no means least, along with its unprecedented growth, the MMFA is hard at work building the new Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, which will be devoted to international art and education … coming in 2016!
Director and Chief Curator
A Word from the Executive Director - Fall 2014
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO LILIANE STEWART
From all of us at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Liliane M. Stewart was a visionary who enabled Montreal to take its place as a UNESCO City of Design on the international stage thanks to the outstanding collection she gave to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the hundreds of acquisitions, made possible through her donations and her support of the Museum’s acquisition committee, which she presided over, as well as the many scholarly exhibitions and catalogues sponsored by the Macdonald Stewart Foundation. As a patron, she made a remarkable contribution to the cultural heritage of Canada and North America. Mrs. Stewart died on May 3, almost exactly thirty years after her beloved husband, David.
Mrs. Stewart created a museum of decorative arts for Montreal featuring a colossal collection of design, the only one of its kind in North America. To the end of her life, this “best friend of Montreal’s museums,” a woman of great refinement, courtesy and generosity, notable for her scholarly rigour, retained her sparkling curiosity and intelligence.
A Design Pioneer
Liliane M. Stewart was born on September 2, 1928, in Cairo, Egypt, the daughter of Czech parents. In 1967, she married David M. Stewart (1920-1984), heir to the family firm, Macdonald Tobacco. While David was particularly interested in old objects, archaeology and the history of New France, Liliane loved artisans and designers, as well as industrial design. When she started her collection, she was at the forefront of the re-evaluation of what was considered modern, provocative and noteworthy in twentieth-century design.
In 2000, thanks to Mrs. Stewart’s generosity and her friendship with Bernard Lamarre, then-president of the MMFA, the collection of the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, valued at $15 million, was merged with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Some 5,000 objects of modern and contemporary design were added to the Museum’s existing collection of early decorative arts. It was one of the most valuable gifts ever received by a Canadian museum. Under the direction of Guy Cogeval, the collection was installed in part of the wing built in 1976 by Fred Lebensold and named the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion in 2001.
Mrs. Stewart continued to collect and donate art to the end of her life. She became Chairman of the Museum’s Acquisition Committee for Decorative Arts and Design at its founding in 2001. Among other gifts, in 2010 the Museum received from Mrs. Stewart the Eric Brill collection of a thousand objects of American industrial design, which included objects from offices and kitchens – overlooked by others – further evidence of her resolutely modern approach.
One of the best pieces of advice given to me by this wonderfully warm and caring woman during one of our memorable conversations was “Always remember to say thank you.”
The entire family of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Brian M. Levitt, Chairman of the Board, its volunteers and staff, all join with me in saying “Thank you!” to Mrs. Stewart.
Director and Chief Curator