Can we rethink the museum?
Last weekend, I visited the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, the newest pavilion of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I hate going to the museum on the weekend (except for the McCord). There are so many people. I see the museum as a temple. Some people have churches, I have the museum. And I like the museum calm and silent. I like to be able to sit and contemplate not only the works but their presence in the room. I like to think about my own presence in the museum, to understand my place, in the current time, and the fact that sitting in the museum is not necessarily a political act.
The new pavilion is beautiful, with big windows and a lot of wood, i.e like every new building constructed in Montreal. Sitting spaces are integrated in the wooden steps next to floor to ceiling windows, kind of like the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Queen St. in Toronto. It houses a major donation of Old Masters from the late Michal & Renata Hornstein, Great Montrealers and important donors of the museum, who both passed away during the killer year 2016.
The museum was free this weekend so there was a huge amount of people and it was not easy to enjoy the pavilion and the museum, but I saw works that really moved me, and the different floors were well organized / curated.
I also took time to visit the Claire and Marc Bourgie pavilion (which housed Kerry James Marshall's comic strip Rythm Mastr) as well as the permanent collection of the museum (which was empty and calm and I had the chance to slowly browse the collection). The permanent collection is divided by region and culture. Greece is obviously what opens the collection, then you walk through Africa, PanAmerica... I am wondering: is there a way to house a collection differently? Why does contemporary art needs to be curated when art and artefact from different cultures are always presented in a didactic way? Why not use libraries to house these cultural artefact, since libraries are houses of knowledge? What is the role of a museum in collecting objects? I personally don't have an idea right now of how I would organize a museum differently, because all fine arts museum like the MMFA I have visited (such as the Met or the ROM) are organized in such way. I need to travel to more places and visit more museums in order to see if other institutions have thought of it differently.