MONTREAL.- The president of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Brian M. Levitt, the director, Nathalie Bondil, and all the Museum staff wish to offer their condolences to the Weider family on the sudden demise of Mr. Ben Weider last Friday. We were very sad to learn of Mr. Weiders death, at the very time that we were working with him on opening the galleries devoted to Napoleon, which we owe to the major gift of his Napoleonic collection. He was so happy about the opening, and had arranged it down to the last detail. It was very important to him, said Museum director Nathalie Bondil, who was deeply grieved by the news. But his wishes will be fulfilled: his sincere, enthusiastic commitment to defending the memory of Napoleon will be preserved at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Ben Weider insisted that his collection, the art and personal effects linked to the Emperor, should remain in Montreal.
The pieces he collected will enrich both the Museums holdings and the countrys heritage. Most notable is the famous cocked hat Napoleon wore during the Russian campaign in 1812, but other treasures include sculptures, paintings and art objects. It is noteworthy too that Mr. Weiders gift has spurred other collectors to offer their works to the Museums as gifts or loans. Among these patrons are the Honourable Serge Joyal, C.P., O.C., Power Corporation of Canada, Roger Prigent of New York, and Élaine Bédard and Alexandre de Bothuri Bathory, who add their condolences to ours, says. Nathalie Bondil, These outstanding gifts, like Mr. Weiders public-spirited desire to enhance the image of Napoleon, have enabled us, at last, to open an Empire gallery. It is not only Montreals heritage but that of Canada that will be enriched by this magnificent period in the arts, which has hitherto been poorly represented here for obvious historical reasons. These galleries will house one of North Americas largest collections of objects connected with the Emperor.
At the request of the Weider family, the new galleries devoted to Napoleon and the arts under the First Empire will be opened to the public, as was originally planned, on Friday, October 24, at 11 a.m. Ben Weider wanted his collection to be accessible to the widest possible public, and that is why he made this remarkable gift to the Museum. Admission to this collection and to the new galleries will be free of charge to all visitors at all times.
During the opening day of the exhibition the Museum will pay tribute to Mr. Weider. A Visitors Book will be found at the entrance to the galleries in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, 1380 Sherbrooke Street West, for everyone who wishes to express their gratitude to this great man. The book will then be presented to the Weider Family.