A major component of the official program of events for Montréal’s 375th anniversary was announced November 23rd with the unveiling of La Balade de la Paix / An Open-Air Museum. This world-class public art exhibition honours the 375th anniversary of Montréal, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 and the 150th anniversary of Canada. It was designed and organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in cooperation with the McCord Museum, with assistance from Concordia and McGill universities. It will be presented along a kilometre-long span of Sherbrooke Street for five months, from May 29th to October 27th, 2017, and feature 67 works bearing messages of peace, in keeping with the universal values of humanism, tolerance and openness that inspired Expo 67.
La Balade de la Paix / An Open-Air Museum will stretch from the McCord Museum, which focuses on the history of Montréal, to the MMFA’s newly opened Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, a 375th anniversary legacy project. The route will be marked by 29 sculptures and installations from world-renowned Canadian and foreign artists Magdalena Abakanowicz, César Baldaccini (better known as César), Romero Betsabée, Jonathan Borofsky, Fernando Botero, Luben Boykov, Alexander Calder, Claude Cormier, Wim Delvoye, Jim Dine, Sorel Etrog, Ivan Eyre, Joe Fafard, Barry Flanagan, Rose-Marie Goulet, Keith Haring, Zhang Huan, Charles Joseph, Yayoi Kusama, Ju Ming, Robert Murray, Dennis Oppenheim, Niki de Saint Phalle, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangolo Pistoletto, Richard Prince, Ugo Rondinone, Wang Shugang and Catherine Sylvain. Many public institutions and private collections have made remarkable loans to this public urban project as well.
Some 40 large-format photographs by Montréal artists will also be exhibited along the route. Showcasing a generous view of our humanity, they will bear witness to the need to live together more harmoniously. The photographers behind these works include Benoit Aquin, Darren Ell, Aydin Matlabi, Jean-François Lemire and Isabelle Hayeur.
All along the Walk, the flags of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and the world’s 200-odd countries will fly high over Sherbrooke Street. The spectacular installation, created by world-renowned Montréal designer Claude Cormier, takes its cues from Expo 67’s playful, futuristic style. Many visitors will be reminded of the sight of Place des Nations decked out in colourful flags, a highlight of the Montréal Universal Exposition.
The exhibition’s ambassador is none other than Louise Arbour, who has spent her entire career fighting for human rights. The summer-long open-air museum was conceived by Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the MMFA, in cooperation with Public Art Counsel Sylvie Lacerte, MMFA Curator Diane Charbonneau, and designer Claude Cormier. The exhibition is organized by Benoit Légaré and Paul Lavallée for the MMFA, with Michel Dallaire and Claude Bernard in charge of technical aspects.