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October 20, 2021

Echo, a new app offering a new approach to art

Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

Beginning this fall, when you visit the Museum’s permanent collection, your mobile device will connect you to other members of the community through Echo. Co-created and co-developed by Montreal firm La Maison Jaune Laboratoire d’Innovation and the MMFA, this tool uses image recognition technology to propose varied new ways of experiencing the Museum.
A new museum mediation tool

Echo is a web-based application that you can access via a QR code during your Museum visit. Using the camera on your smartphone, you simply “capture” the identified artworks to pull up videos, audio files and other novel content. This innovative tool adds a whole new dimension to the museum experience and allows you to interact with the MMFA’s artworks in ways both surprising and stimulating.

Echo #MyMMFA
MyMMFA: A Collection Experience Guided by the Museum’s Community

To kick-start Echo, the Museum team developed an experience that draws on human connection and dialogue – core themes in the current cultural program. Taking up the call of Chief Curator Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Museum employees shared the works in the collection they have a particular fondness for and their reasons why. The call was then extended to public figures across different fields, who enthusiastically agreed to take part in the project.

In MyMMFA, you will discover touching personal testimonies, thoughtful comments and interesting insights on the MMFA’s vast and diverse holdings, ranging all the way from a tiny turtle-shaped shale palette dating from predynastic Egypt to contemporary installations.

Diverse and inspiring testimonials

In the Michal and Renata Pavilion for Peace, find out how Claude Lorrain’s The Daughters of Helios Searching for Their Brother, Phaeton came to enter the collection, as told by Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Senior Curator Emeritus. Revisit Leon Golub’s arresting Mercenaries II through the eyes of Montreal chef and art lover David McMillan, and hear iconic fashion designer Denis Gagnon’s account of how the stark black and white palette of Napoleon on His Death Bed left him speechless the first time he set eyes on this canvas. MyMMFA also includes a retelling of the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, given by Museum Director, Stéphane Aquin. This tale from the epic poem The Aeneid, is as poignant now as when Virgil wrote it over 2,000 years ago. It is depicted in a painting by Andrea Mantegna (about 1500).

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The experience continues in the Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing for the Arts of One World, where you will find a favourite work of Tanya Sirois, Executive Director of the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec. Sirois shares that Memory Keepers by Shanna Strauss is particularly moving to her because the artist learned the history of her ancestors by listening to her grandmother’s stories. MMFA Curator of Pre-Columbian Art, Erell Hubert, was among those responsible for preparing the Wing’s gallery spaces when it opened in 2019. In the process of doing so, a Peruvian cup from the 17th or 18th century caught her eye. In MyMMFA, Hubert gives a fascinating explanation of how this object would have been made to glorify both the artist and the patron’s Inca ancestors.

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Last but not least, the Contemporary art lovers among you can explore the exhibition Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet from a new angle as Indigenous poet, storyteller and director Joséphine Bacon shares her response to the installation Beyond Redemption by Adrian Stimson: “I was immediately struck by it. Because in this work, I saw our past and then I also saw our present, and […] our future.”

Adrian Stimson (born in 1964), Beyond Redemption
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These are but a few samples of the many captivating testimonials that await you. New voices will be added to the digital experience over time, including for works in the Contemporary art galleries on Level S2 of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion this November.

Be sure to try out the MMFA experience on your next visit to the Museum! We also invite you to share your favourite Museum works on social media using the hashtag #MyMMFA.

Acknowledgements
The creation of the Web application Echo was made possible thanks to the generous contribution of major partners the Government of Quebec and Tourisme Montréal, to whom the MMFA extends its most sincere thanks. The MyMMFA experience is presented by Hydro-Québec, in collaboration with Hatch and RBC. The Museum expresses is heartfelt thanks to official sponsor Denalt Paints and media partner La Presse. It is also profoundly grateful to the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, the Canada Concil for the Arts and the Conseil des arts de Montréal for their ongoing support.

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