Open otherwise, and contribute to the collective good

Ouvrir autrement, et contribuer au bien collectif

Photo: Adil Boukind The Duty
The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal picks up where it stopped in march : on the banks of the Nile, with the exhibition “egyptian Mummies”. Arrows and dots on the ground indicate, every two meters, where rest the feet on, where to wait, how to work around the works…

The museums were ready. Well before the Guide of health standards in the workplace to museums and libraries, announced at the end of may at one of the points of the prime minister’s press Legault, the institutions had their plans of re-opening, anti-COVID included. It was only missing the gb government. After a three-month ” quarantine “, the Musée d’art de Joliette (MAJ) will be one of the first to reopen. The exhibitions in progress when the crisis hit have not changed one iota. It will yet look like a completely different museum.

An external marking on the ground will form a queue. A doorman will control the inputs. A “obligatory stop” at the station of washing of hands before the purchase of tickets. A week of D-day, disinfectant soaps, for optional use, are already in front of each room. And each displays its maximum capacity.

The presence of arrows indicates the procedure to follow. No question of going back on the no. “This is of course one way. We developed a signage COVID, different from the line graph of the museum, ” says director Jean-François Bélisle.

“One of the consequences interesting the journey one-way,” he continued, entering the room devoted to the artist Monique Régimbald-Zeiber, is that he had to think about how the expo was to be read. We impose a narrative. Here, it is necessary to begin by the works of his youth, who influenced the later work. “

The museums will re-open almost at the same time (see box). The changes vary from one case to the other. At the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke (MBAS), we have reviewed the exposure of Simon Beaudry . Its interactive modules, including a station cree with micro, couldn’t agree more-time to déconfinement.

At the McCord Museum, where the lavatory faucet has become automatic, the reopening will enable the opening of the expo devoted to the cartoonist Chapleau. Once planned… on 15 march. The vernissage ? It will be virtual.



  • Museum of fine arts, Montréal : June 6,
  • Musée d’art de Joliette : June 9,
  • Museum of fine arts of Sherbrooke : June 10,
  • Museum of civilization : 20 June
  • McCord museum : June 23,
  • Pointe-à-Callière : 25 June
  • Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec : June 29,

An exhibition at the time

If the SHIFT we opted for a sign “COVID” discrete — arrow, by — room, at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (MBAM), it is the opposite. Arrows and dots on the ground indicate, every two meters, where rest the feet on, where to wait, how to work-around works…

MBAM also picks up where it stopped in march : on the banks of the Nile, with the exhibition egyptian Mummies. The concept is the same. We only removed the interactive screens and the benches. “The visit is exceptional. Yes, we must make the file, but each will be a report to the works as well as ever. It is touching to be found among these characters, ” said Sophie Boucher, head of prevention, security and maintenance, in the room of the first sarcophagi.

The rest of the museum will not be accessible : there is an exhibition at the time — Paris in the time of post-impressionism will take over at the end of June. Main change : purchase tickets on-line, delivered with safety instructions and with the obligation to appear at a specific time. The system buffers provides for the presence of 90 visitors every sixty minutes, a traffic 25 % less than the usual.

These measures and the presence of the expo in the oldest pavilion of the MMFA cause it to enter the visitors by the prestigious portico with columns in ionic style. They will queue up at the foot of the stairs outside, tickets in hand.

“The trip allows you to see each room from different angles, but we will not be able to stay 15 minutes in front of each. It is necessary to think of others, it is a show of solidarity, and accept the agreement to move in a reasonable way “, recalls Sophie Boucher.


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Terrible impact

In Joliette, the committee déconfinement of the SHIFT was estimated to be able to accommodate a maximum of 150 visitors. “In normal times, admits Jean-François Bélisle, one does never [to this number], but not in openings. And openings, there will be more. “

Still, everything has a cost and it has been decided not to have automatic doors and a payment platform on-line. “We don’t have sub for it,” says the director. The reopening of the museum, this is $ 18,000 that I do not have in this year already in deficit, monstrous. “

In the cultural milieu, the self-generated revenues (ticket sales, philanthropy, sponsorship) have melted with the health crisis. Jean-François Bélisle, who had laid off 80 % of the museum at the end of march — staff re-employed with wage subsidies of the federal government, admits to having lost $ 75,000 in fifteen minutes (donations cancelled). According to the communications service, the SHIFT may not reach 450 000 dollars in ” revenue philanthropic annual usual “.

Suzanne Savage, director of the McCord Museum, is of the opinion that the COVID-19 has a “terrible impact” on the budget. She fears that a long obligation to limit the number of visitors put an end to the international exhibitions. “Get 60 visitors at a time, it is long before you reach 300 000. We turn to more exhibitions of our collections, less expensive, ” she said, which ensures that the exhibition Christian Dior is still included in the calendar of the autumn.

The SHIFT was postponed to an unknown date its exposure fall, which brought together 25 artists from ” around the world “. “It is easier to cut a big expo like this that 1000 dollars to the left and to the right “, calculates Jean-François Bélisle.

In Sherbrooke, the MBAS also provides for a year in deficit. The solution, believes its director, will go through collective fundraising. “We must change our funding formulas. It is necessary to avoid the multiple requests and concerted action, “says Maude Charland-Lallier, for which the’ art contributes to the public good “.

Even many, the health measures do not compromise ” the visitor experience “. “People, she said, will find the exhibits in a healthy environment and soothing atmosphere that provides an escape from the everyday in peace. “

The necessary day camps

The SHIFT is one of the few institutions to have not deleted its day camps, frequented every summer by 500 young people. For its director, Jean-François Bélisle, it is through them that best expresses the community role of a museum. He wanted to save them, in spite of a operation of $ 40 000 is more expensive, a result of sanitary measures. He had to convince the partners of the SHIFT of the help. “It shocked me since the beginning of the crisis, the number of elected officials who have said that it was necessary to open the museum because the entertainment is important. It is not entertainment, plague-t-it. We prided ourselves for years in our community role. This is the time of the exercise. If you want the community to revive, it was super important that we keep the day camps. “

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