The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts opens a new wing

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The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts opens a new wing
Yinka Shonibare, C.B.E. (born in 1962), Pan, 2018, fibreglass, hand-painted Dutch-wax pattern, hand-coloured globe, gold leaf, steel. Long-term loan from a private collection. © Yinka Shonibare, C.B.E. / SOCAN, 2019. Photo Courtesy James Cohan, New York.

MONTREAL.- The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts unveils the Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing for the Arts of One World. Located on the 4th floor of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, the wing's 10 fully refurbished galleries create a dialogue between works of ancient cultures and those by local and international contemporary artists from a renewed intercultural and transhistorical perspective. This ambitious reinstallation project was made possible thanks to the generous support of Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery.

An exceptional tool to discover and understand cultural diversity both in Canada and around the world from yesterday to today, this new MMFA wing displays a rich selection from its collection of 42,600 art works, including over 10,000 archaeological objects and pieces by artists from world cultures. This collection is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Canada.

The 1025 m2 of the Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery wing contain more than 1500 objects and works by artists who hail from every continent. Located in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, the largest and most visited of the Museum's five pavilions, the wing presents treasures from Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Oceania and the Americas dating from the 4th millennium BCE to today. It invites visitors to take a fresh and 360-degree look at our ancient heritage and contemporary creations. Its layout highlights the exchange between cultures and the past and present while showcasing current disciplines and social concerns that go beyond the discourse of art history.

At the heart of a humanist and socially engaged museum, the Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing for the Arts of One World promotes inclusive values that reflect Montreal, a metropolis made up of nearly 120 cultural communities. It invites cultures to come together to better understand the Other in a 21st century in which togetherness is a daily challenge.

Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the MMFA, explains: "Conceived of five years ago, this project is based on a generous and bold intercultural and transhistorical vision. It is the culmination of a decade of hard work (studies, rediscoveries, restorations, an acquisitions) with our curators, conservators, archivists, archeologists, experts and donors to enhance, reinforce, study, and renew our archeological collections and those from traditional cultures. The wing includes more than 1500 works: pieces that have been acquired over 10 years along with many pieces from our collection that have been rediscovered from our reserves. I wanted this wing to provide complex perspectives and diverse voices through more contemporary works that echo our global world. These great artists are from every continent and include Canadians who are part of diverse, Indigenous, and local and international communities. It is quite an emotional event to inaugurate this space three years to the day after the opening of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, where the art collections originally held in this space were moved.

More than ever, we need to think as One World, or a world of togetherness as our societies fracture. We want individuals to marvel at our plurality of cultures in a world that has never experienced such close proximity. This wing represents a journey toward the Other as we become aware of our common fate as we currently struggle to achieve sustainable development and protect life's diversity. This poetic journey refers to the extremely open and far-reaching thought of Caribbean poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant. His ideas are that we must crisscross the traditions of our world and that the imaginations of humanities must change. Welcome to a wing that lifts us all up, where we can "act where we live yet think with the whole world"!

"One World": a tribute to Édouard Glissant

The MMFA's World Cultures collection has been completely revamped. The new name of this collection echoes the One World concept introduced by Martinique poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant (1928-2011). "Relationship" is the key to his vault of thoughts on diversity and plurality. Questioning ethnocentric views of the world and history, Glissant interprets modernity as a relational process in a non-hierarchical world between all peoples and all cultures.

"I call ‘One World' our universe as it changes and persists through our interactions and, at the same time, our ‘vision' of this universe. One World is the totality of the world in its physical diversity and the representations that it inspires for us: let us no longer suffer to sing, speak or work from our single place without diving into the imagination of this totality," wrote Édouard Glissant in his Traité du Tout-monde [Treatise on the One World].

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