A gallery layout designed to feature some 600 works
Expanding the Museum’s total gallery space by 20%, over two thousand square metres are devoted to the exhibition of Quebec and Canadian art! The addition to the church finally makes it possible to display the full breadth of the Museum’s extraordinary collections of early and modern Canadian art, with hundreds of works to be discovered (or rediscovered) on view.
This heritage collection presents some six hundred works chronologically, from the top level downwards, within a gallery layout conceived by designer Daniel Castonguay. Each of the pavilion’s six levels spotlights a historical period in a distinctive way, now providing, for the first time, a more in-depth understanding and appreciation of Quebec and Canadian art.
An unprecedented restoration initiative
During the development and building of the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, the Museum carried out painstaking restoration work to enhance the collection. Under the direction of Richard Gagnier, some one hundred works were restored.
A focused initiative not only enabled us to undertake specific treatments for works considered to be materially unstable or aesthetically unacceptable, but it also gave us an opportunity to evaluate the condition of an entire corpus and look into the many measures that had been taken over the years to ensure it remained in good shape over the long term.
—Richard Gagnier, Head of the Conservation Department
Tiffany stained glass windows
The conversion of the nave of the church into a concert hall also led to a thorough study and restoration of the outstanding group of stained glass windows—part of the Museum’s collection—that adorn the building.
Eighteen of the twenty Tiffany windows were created during what was the heyday of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, between 1897 and 1904. The ensemble is one of only two Tiffany commissions in Canada and one of its few religious series still extant in North America. Today, after a half century in obscurity, this invaluable component of our heritage is at last accessible!
The unique setting of Bourgie Hall
While Bernard Lamarre dreamt of acquiring the Erskine and American Church in order to expand the Museum, it was the fervent wish of another Montrealer, Pierre Bourgie, a collector of contemporary art and passionate music lover, to take an abandoned city church and turn it into a music venue for the enjoyment of the general public. And that is how Bourgie Hall came into being.
The size of today’s 462-seat concert hall is ideally suited to the needs of chamber music and other ensembles, like string orchestras.
Arte Musica Fundation
The concerts programmed by the Arte Musica Foundation, as well as by private musical organizations, confirm the community interest in this both intimate and spectacular venue. Featuring a repertoire ranging from early music to contemporary pieces, they offer audiences musical experiences reflecting the diversity of the Museum’s encyclopedic collection.
The Erskine and American Church.
Saving an historic monument
One man had long cherished the idea of acquiring the magnificent church that neighboured the Museum.
Bernard Lamarre loved the Erskine and American Church’s massive stone architecture, imposing nave, and opulent stained glass windows; it seemed inconceivable to him that this Montreal landmark should lose its role as a public space.
The Erskine and American Church was therefore granted a new life by becoming part of the Museum’s fourth pavilion. Through its acquisition, the Museum accomplished something unique in Canada: on the one hand, building a pavilion of Canadian art and, on the other, creating a multidisciplinary hall mainly given over to concerts, while at the same time preserving a place of national historic significance.
The Erskine and American Church, view of the 1938 nave, black and white photograph, McGill University Library, Montreal. John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection. Nobbs Archive, project 574.
Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion.
CiteMuseal_Bourgie_7209_45_3-Marc-Cramer Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion. Photo © Marc Cramer
History of the Church
- The Erskine Church, which followed the Scottish Presbyterian tradition, was officially founded in Canada in 1833.
- As it became increasingly prosperous, the community it served decided to build a new house of worship in the affluent anglophone enclave of the Golden Square Mile, choosing Alexander Cowper Hutchison as its architect.
- In 1925, the Erskine Church joined the United Church of Canada.
- In 1934, the Erskine United Church amalgamated with another Presbyterian congregation, the American United Church, to form the Erskine and American United Church.
- In 1937-1938, the Erskine and American Church recruited architects Percy E. Nobbs and George T. Hyde to remodel and enlarge its building. This involved the construction of a narthex, the adding of new Arts and Crafts-style furnishings and ornamentation, the installation of a Casavant organ and, most importantly, the incorporation of a unique group of stained glass windows from the workshops of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company.