The Sharing the Museum programme gives people with special needs the opportunity to interact with works of art in the Museum’s encyclopedic collection. Thanks to this programme, tens of thousands of visitors who are usually excluded from the cultural experience are able to take part in free activities designed especially for them. Participants and their families have found these activities to be very beneficial. More and more, we are realizing that a museum visit can have a positive effect on well-being and happiness.
Born of a desire to nourish the hearts of children as much as their bodies, this project provides an opportunity for some 100 young people attending the Clubs des petits déjeuners du Québec to enjoy an artistic experience designed to promote the development of self-esteem. These students from underprivileged backgrounds will be invited to create something at their school for presentation in the Museum’s educational gallery.
The Museum has joined forces with the Club, which is much more than a breakfast programme, supporting commitment, valorization and the development of capacities, values that are dear to the Museum. By contributing its expertise and educational spaces, the MMFA wishes to imbue the children with a sense of achievement. The goal is also to inspire thinking around the transformative ability of art, a metaphor for the capacity of every individual, regardless of their age, to have control over their own destiny.
In connection with Une école montréalaise pour tous, a government programme designed to promote academic success among students from Montreal’s multi-ethnic and under-privileged communities, the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents Mail Art: a Portrait in Full Letters. Students from five elementary schools in under-privileged communities took part in a cultural experience at the Museum to produce some mail art, a unique form of correspondence.
In their classes, young people from grades 3 and 4 received two artists, one spoken-word and the other literary, who invited them to take a trip with words and illustrations. Then, inspired by a tour of the Museum’s contemporary art collection, the students created postcards around the theme of identity and roots. In the end, their stories became art in the form of postcards. By exhibiting their works, the students became part of Montreal’s cultural and social life.
To help counteract the isolation in which immigrant women live and to contribute to their well-being, the MMFA has partnered with the Y des femmes.
The participants in this project already visit the Centre Multi at the Y, a place of multicultural and multigenerational exchange, learning and sharing, which offers language courses, computers, activities and resources adapted to the needs and interests of these women. The goal? To promote their personal development, their health and their well-being. A mission consistent with that of the MMFA.
While the mothers meet other women of all ages and all backgrounds at the Centre Multi, the MMFA welcomes their children. This is much more than a simple baby-sitting service; the children visit the Museum, take part in creative workshops and interact with other children. While mom is recharging her batteries, the MMFA offers these young people an inspiring outing, access to its collections, and who knows, maybe a chance to make some new friends.
On the strength of its first-line community services, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul created, with the MMFA, the project Bonne mine au Musée. With the support of an art therapist and a Museum mediator, it offers elementary and secondary school students who are potential dropouts to become involved in creating and exhibiting something at the Museum, along with some seniors. These artistic encounters provide an opportunity to bring the generations closer together and foster academic success among the young participants.
This project, arising from a collaboration between Elizabeth House and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is aimed at young single-parent mothers and young women having trouble adjusting to their pregnancy – those for whom assuming the role of parent is not at all easy.
As beneficiaries of services provided by Elizabeth House, a private readaptation centre, these young women benefit from support and specialized interventions. Working with this agency that hopes to have a positive impact on the lives of young children whose parents need help assuming their parental role, the Museum provides a complement. By participating in creative activities at the Museum or their school, these young women have the added support of a positive experience. These positive artistic moments may inspire them to come back later, and enjoy an outing that is beneficial for both mother and child. What is certain is that these cultural experiences act as a balm for the hardships and isolation they may be going through.
For over 15 years, the MMFA has promoted access to culture for elementary and secondary school students attending underprivileged schools in the greater Montreal region. So as to ensure greater flexibility and enable them to visit the MMFA independently, as a family, the Museum created the programme Coup de pouce aux familles in January 2012.
Thanks to the distribution of open passes, a family can visit the Museum’s collections and its temporary exhibitions free of charge, and participate in the family activities that take place every weekend.
Up to 2016, the Museum distributed some 5,000 passes through Montreal’s library network, thus enabling over 16,000 children and parents to visit the Museum free of charge.
This year, in 2017, the Museum will extend its efforts even further by distributing 13,000 passes, which will be distributed through key partners closely involved in accessibility and inclusion, namely the Breakfast Club, the Montreal library network, Moisson Montréal and the Fondation du Dr. Julien.
The MMFA is pursuing its mission of valorizing diversity and living together in cooperation with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, under its programme “4th Wall: Make the Invisible Visible.”
In 2014, this project featured some young artists from black communities in Montreal. In 2016, some young Muslim Quebeckers aged 15 to 30 were invited to speak about subjects of particular concern to them, such as social exclusion and Islamophobia. The presentation of one of their artistic creations was an opportunity for these young people to express their feelings about belonging and their place in Quebec society.
This project, based on the values of tolerance, civic engagement and mutual understanding, has also provided food for thought and dialogue.
For several years now, the Museum has joined forces with LOVE (Leave Out Violence) Quebec, an organization that works to reduce violence and its effects on the lives of adolescents who feel excluded from cultural institutions.
So as to inspire 12 young people at risk, youth suffering from the collateral damage of violence, verbal, physical or sexual abuse, or suicidal tendencies, the Museum offers some specialized workshops. Led by an educator who initiates the participants in the artistic concepts of traditional and contemporary art, the program includes a tour of the collections and workshops that will serve as a foundation for photographic and written works. It concludes with an EducExpo open to all.
As a rule, these youth do not feel at home in cultural institutions. However, by recounting their lives in artistic form, they have a chance to share their experiences with the Montreal community. By exhibiting on our walls, they open to us the doors to their world.
Vulnerable persons, homeless men are often struggling with drug dependency or mental health issues. Presently engaged in a social reintegration project, the Eugène-Bernier hostel run by Accueil Bonneau serves as an anchor for such men. And so the activity offered by the Museum takes place in part in their “home.”
Through visits to the Museum and workshops held within Maison Eugène-Bernier, in the company of cultural mediators, participants are given access to a variety of artistic techniques (photography, painting, writing, drawing, etc.) in connection with the MMFA’s collections and exhibitions, with a view to creating works that make their daily environment more attractive. Besides developing social skills, and countering isolation, a major issue for these individuals, it is hoped that this project will give rise to a feeling of belonging. May these men’s creations find a place for others to see them – a fine metaphor for the place that these men may occupy in our society.
In 2013, the MMFA partnered with Le Tour de lire, an organization that oversees the rights of residents who have little schooling or are illiterate in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood of Montreal, and that attempts to counteract the exclusion and poverty of which such residents are victims, through the creation of Expovreté.
The participants in this creation and exhibition project chose to consider poverty and illiteracy in the light of ten themes: social assistance, diet, employment, housing, recreation, purchasing power, prejudice, health, transportation and the city. Subjects that arose from lengthy group discussions and critical analyses. Numerous creative workshops directed by educators in the Museum’s Department of Education and Community Programmes gave the participants an opportunity to express their words and their woes.
The MMFA is hosting a 4th edition of the project Point de départ, as part of arts month at the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM). This program brings together students from two school levels to focus on works from the Quebec and Canadian Art collection. Point de départ is gaining ground in both elementary and secondary schools, with its goal of rediscovery of the collection through a particular detail of a work. The detail is constantly reinterpreted, demonstrating how many creative possibilities begin from the same starting point. This group arts project is a chance for these young people to forge positive social bonds among themselves, and to affirm themselves through creation, a source of individual valorization.
DAREarts has taken up the challenge of developing leadership among young people by getting them to open themselves up to art and take part in meaningful cultural activities designed to develop leadership. Thanks to this organization, begun in Toronto 20 years ago, over 180,000 teenagers from across Canada have had access to art.
This year, the MMFA and DAREarts are resuming the partnership they began in 2014 in order for 12 young people at risk to enjoy an artistic experience benefitting both them and those around them.
After they have visited the collections of the MMFA, taken part in some creative workshops, exchanged and explored an entire world, the participants become ambassadors in their schools, spokespersons for what art can provide as an opening and a positive experience. They find within themselves a sense of leadership that was previously buried. This adventure broadens their horizons, along with those of their communities, and alters their future prospects.
The Fournelle Family Fund, Erin and Joe Battat, the Anne D. Fish Fund, the Jacques and Michel Auger Foundation and the Shirley Baerwald Estate.