Divine Design: A Montreal Church Converted Into A Contemporary Art Haven
November 12, 2012
images © Marc Cramer and Tom Arban
What was once a quiet cathedral in Montreal is now the center of a new art and music movement.The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hired Provencher Roy + Associes Architectes to restore and repurpose an early 19th-century neo-Romanesque church into a hub for contemporary art and music. Thrust into stardom, the new Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art houses many of the church’s original gems, like 20 Tiffany stained-glass windows and a dazzling Byzantine-style dome, while introducing a new open, fluid, and engaging contemporary art center and concert hall. Read more.
Provencher Roy’s first task at hand was to restore the historic church’s beautiful details. Stained-glass windows were reinforced, its limestone facade preserved, and even the intricate woodwork pieces lining the chapel nave were completely realigned.
Next, the firm wanted to integrate the cathedral into modern times with modern functions. A giant music hall was installed under the arched ceilings to take advantage of the beautiful acoustics the historic building had to offer, while additional lighting called attention to the church’s exquisite detailing.
The new art wing was the next task at hand. The architects clad the structure in marble, leaving large openings on the sides and roof for natural light to illuminate the exhibition spaces. The art center echoes the church’s design with long hallways and hidden alcoves on each level. Visitors enter on a basement level and are greeted with Colonial-era art. The collection is presented chronologically, so that as the visitor ascends the museum’s five stories, they can piece together a historical narrative of Canadian art.
Only opened for a little more than a year, the new pavilion has already seen a historically high number of visitors. How’s that for divine intervention?