"To contribute to the renown of museums, allow their visitors to keep a faithful and vivid instrument of recollection when they leave them, and invite those who do not know them to come and discover their treasures", these are, in the words of François Debiesse, President of the BNP Paribas Foundation, the goals which the BNP Paribas Foundation wishes to attain through its contribution to the publication of an art book collection on museums.

With this edition, BNP Paribas makes its first cultural venture into Canadian territory and opens the gates of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. As the first as well as the oldest and one of the greatest museum in Canada's cultural capital, this revered institution has built its reputation both on its magnificent collections and its internationally-acclaimed temporary exhibitions. Authored by the museum's own curators, this book invites the reader to a fully, lively, richly and passionately illustrated visit of the treasures of these collections... To learn more or simply whet the appetite of our imagination.

A journey through over 30 000 works, from the Antiquity to our present days.
Over the course of its hundred and forty years of existence, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has collected over 30 000 artefacts, paintings, sculptures, drawings, etchings and ornamental pieces, which illustrate the evolution of arts throughout the world from the Antiquity to our present days. As such, the museum, which can now boast the ownership of a significant international collection of paintings and sculptures, as well as an impressive collection of European and North American decorative arts, stands out as a flagship institution for the country and for North America in general.

This motivated the Foundation's decision to publish BNP Paribas' first art book dedicated to a North American museum. This publication is also a wonderful way for the bank, particularly since its merger, to signal its presence as a patron of the arts in a country as important as Canada. In addition to this, this museum is now headed by Guy Cogeval, a Frenchman and former director of the Palais de Chaillot Museum of French Monuments in Paris, who decided to venture across the Atlantic to take up new challenges.

An institution in which art means both past and present
The Montreal Museum of fine arts is indeed renowned for its collections of Quebec, Canadian, Inuit and Amerindian art, as well as works by European masters. The list of well-represented artists in these collections include Rembrandt, Rubens, Mantegna, Greco, Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and Dali. Major Canadian artists such as Morrice, Borduas, Riopelle, Laliberté are also present in significant numbers among the museum treasures.

The museum can also boast the ownership of the most significant collection of decorative arts from Canada and the United States. An impressive collection of antique silverware, English china, as well the greatest set of Japanese incense boxes in the world (over 3000 items formerly owned by Georges Clemenceau) are particularly noteworthy. In 2000, the museum was the beneficiary of an exceptional gift: the Liliane and David M. Stewart's contemporary design collection, previously housed in the Montreal Museum of decorative arts.
The museum is also renowned for its major international touring exhibitions. For instance, from June 14th to September 16th, 2001, the museum hosted the magnificent exhibition entitled "Erotic Picasso", shortly after the Galerie du Jeu de Paume in Paris and ahead of Barcelona's Picasso Museum. This exhibition attracted over 195 000 visitors. The Museum was the initiator of "Hitchcock and Art", an exhibition also featured at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, and is preparing a great retrospective tribute to Vuillard, the post-impressionist painter of whom Guy Cogeval is a specialist.

Thanks to noteworthy and diverse exhibitions, the number of visitors to this great museum has almost doubled in twenty years, from an annual figure of 344,384 in 1980 to 630,926 in 2000.

Published with the support of the BNP Paribas Foundation

Foreword by Guy Cogeval, the museum's director
Contributions by Stéphane Aquin, Nathalie Bondil-Poupard, Diane Charbonneau, Hilliard Goldfarb, Jean-Pierre Labiau, Hélène Lamarche, Rosalind Pepall.

A Brief History of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The collections

- Ancient Civilizations
- European art
  • From the Age of Faith to the Age of Revolution (1100-1800)

  • Montreal follows the European Fashion (1800-1939)

  • - Canadian art
  • Paintings and Sculpture (1690-1939)

  • The Beaver Hall Artists

  • James Wilson Morrice

  • Inuit and Amerindian Art

  • - Contemporary art
  • The Collection (1939-2000)

  • Paul-Émile Borduas and His Circle

  • - Decorative arts
  • From Renaissance to Rococo

  • From the 1930s to the Present Day

  • Index and Bibliography


    136 21 x 28 pages, and ca. 150 colour photographs
    Publisher : Réunion des Musées Nationaux - France and Canada
    Press contact(s)
    Montreal Museum of fine arts, 1379 - 1380, Sherbrooke West
    Tel. (514) 285 1600
    Information : (514) 285 2000/Fax : (514) 844 6042
    Web Site: www.mbam.qc.ca
    E-mail : webmaster [at] mbamtl (dot) org

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