Like a large open-sky museum

2 minutes

Malik Cocherel

  • © La Ville de Montréal rend hommage à l’artiste de renom Oscar Peterson, alors qu’une place portant son nom sera créée lors du réaménagement de l’avenue McGill College, au centre-ville de Montréal. (Groupe CNW/Ville de Montréal - Cabinet de la mairesse et du comité exécutif)
Art will occupy a more prominent place in downtown Montreal. The vision: to turn Montreal into a vast outdoor museum.

With the pedestrianization of McGill College Avenue well under way, a public square will be developed in honour of Montreal musician Oscar Peterson. As such, the Public ArtBureau launched a contest for the creation of a first work of art, which should include “sensorial, contemplative, immersive experiences.”

Oscar Peterson: a heritage to be honoured

“We’re looking for a piece that really calls on the senses, and could be inspired by Oscar Peterson’s music,” explains Marie-Claude Langevin, Public Art Bureau Commissioner, in an interview.

Another contest will be launched in fall 2022, for the creation of a second piece in homage of the musician’s contribution to the Montreal community.

“We want to highlight all the good this man brought to Montrealers,” Langevin specifies. The goal is to inaugurate both pieces on the future Oscar Peterson square as soon as the work on McGill College Avenue is complete, in 2025.

“The integration of artwork in the redesign of the downtown core will contribute to creating an open-sky museum,” concludes Langevin. “We want to give the public access to a true artistic circuit.”

Marie-Claude Langevin

The MAC: artbetween the skyscrapers

McGill College Avenue is not the only downtown road undergoing a complete transformation. Initiated in June, the expansion of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC) will continue until 2025. In the meantime, the MAC opened up shop in a vacant space at Place Ville Marie, where it will remain for at least two and a half years. That way, the museum can continue its artistic, educational, and event activities in the heart of downtown Montreal.

John Zeppetelli, General Manager and Chief Curator at the MAC, promised to use the opportunity to devise “interventions in the city that will offer new experiences.” Already last fall, eight sculptures had been set up at Esplanade PVM.

Sainte-Cath: transforming the pedestrian experience

Looking to the future, we can imagine that it will become even more common to find art between iconic skyscrapers in the downtown core. “We want to completely transform the walking experience in the downtown area, all year long,” says Noémie Bélanger, urban counselling advisor for the Sainte-Catherine West and McGill College projects.

“The idea is to highlight the area’s attractions and intrinsic qualities, downtown being a place with lots of activities and animation.”

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will also be adding its own touch to its building, helping to make downtown a vast, open-sky artistic circuit. Following the success of Adrift, an outdoor installation by Collectif Incognito presented in summer 2021, the MMFA plans to bring back the experience next summer, with a brand-new artistic installation on avenue du Musée. Visit downtown Montreal to see all beautiful art in our streets.

Noémie Bélanger