Transformation Project

50 years of discoveries

For over 50 years, Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain (MAC), located in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, has brought together local and international artists, their works and an ever-growing public. It is a place of discovery, offering visitors experiences that are continually changing and new, and often unexpected and stirring.

The Musée presents temporary exhibitions devoted to outstanding and relevant current artists who provide their own, particular insight into our society, as well as exhibitions of works drawn from the museum’s extensive Permanent Collection.

Every form of expression may be featured: digital and sound works, installations, paintings, sculptures, ephemeral pieces, and more. In addition to its wide range of educational activities familiarizing the general public with contemporary art, the MAC also organizes unique artistic performances and festive events.

A one-of-a-kind location

The Mac
Photo: Sébastien Roy

Choosing to build the MAC at Place des Arts in 1992 proved to be a decisive and visionary move. Nearly six million people a year travel through the underground network that connects the MAC to the Place-des-Arts metro station.

The Place des Arts esplanade and the Place des Festivals are overrun by several million festival-goers every year. Currently, close to eight million people a year visit the Quartier des spectacles. This urban and architectural redefinition of the neighbourhood positions the museum at the heart of the city’s cultural life, between Place des Arts and Place des Festivals. However, the MAC has yet to benefit from the Quartier des spectacles’ extraordinary influx of people.

There are, of course, upsides to being located in what is currently the best spot for a Montreal museum, but the MAC is unable to take full advantage of it because of the design of its layout and access points, which are located in Place des Arts and on its esplanade. The design, which made sense in 1992, now hinders any plans to develop the MAC.

That is why redefining the MAC’s relationship to the city by opening it up onto the intersection of Sainte-Catherine and Jeanne-Mance streets and onto Place des Festivals, and by using transparency to highlight the connection with Espace Georges-Émile-Lapalme (the interior MAC entrance in Place des Arts), is a crucial element for the MAC to achieve its full potential.

At its current size, the MAC is also in dire need of more space to present its rich Collection. Indeed, only 1.5% of the thousands of works in the MAC Collection are currently available to the public.

Desired outcome

Since 2004, the MAC has been examining its options to widen its reach and fulfil the demands of an ever-expanding public. Enlarging the space is crucial if this unique contemporary art collection is to be properly showcased.

Just as importantly, the increasing diversity of current art processes – be it performance, installation, digital or video art – compels all contemporary art museums to redesign their space to present contemporary art exhibitions in appropriate settings, which are often nothing like the traditional “white box” design.

Today, the MAC is in full growth

Artists and art lovers alike patronize the MAC and the positive effects are, among others, hundreds of thousands of visitors, an increasing number of memberships and many partnerships with prestigious institutions.

Transform, grow and better welcome our guests

The MAC wants to reassert its position as a leader and plans to play an increasingly active role in showcasing, sharing and promoting contemporary art from Quebec, Canada and abroad.

Thanks to the renovation project, the MAC will be in a position to fully carry out its mission by expanding its exhibition spaces and offering a wider array of educational activities for youth and adults. Once the project is completed, the MAC will also be able to significantly increase its self-generated revenue.

Transforming the MAC means attracting a new, more diverse and ever-growing public by building a magical, art-friendly space conducive to all kinds of meetings, creating a warmer space for visitors and making it a choice destination. Transforming the MAC also means significantly expanding the exhibition space–giving it the means and the tools necessary to present in a befitting manner today’s art, be it experimental works in the growing fields of digital, image, sound, installation or performance art.

John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator

Consideration of the project consequently revolves around several goals:

  • Improving the visibility and accessibility of the main entrance;
  • Increasing the spaces available to house exhibitions and improving their versatility;
  • Improving the atmosphere;
  • Increasing and improving educational spaces;
  • Relocating the MAC’s commercial spaces.

Achieving these goals will allow the MAC to function better and strive for greater financial autonomy.

The MAC’s Foundation

The Foundation is launching a fundraising campaign to finance the MAC transformation project. Investing in the MAC produces significant economic, cultural and touristic results.

Make a donation

Partners and donors

Nowadays museums are known to be strong economic development levers that play an essential role in the growth of a city. The business sector understands the importance of supporting the future projects of institutions like the MAC.

Partners and donors can act as catalysts for the MAC’s vision founded on innovation and openness. The governments of Quebec and Canada have confirmed their commitment with guaranteed investments of 18.85 million dollars each, attesting to the project’s importance. The MAC Foundation has also promised to contribute 7 million dollars.

With the improvement and diversification of the MAC’s revenue sources, as well as the Foundation’s and the governments’ remarkable efforts, the major project’s success is all but certain.

Project execution

The planned project start date is June 2019, and it will take place over two years.

Total cost of the transformation project: 44.7 million dollars

Time frame

February 2017
Council of Ministers’ approval of the “Dossier d’opportunité”

June 2017
Launch of the architectural competition

September 2017
Announcement of the four architectural competition finalists (See press release – in French)

June 2019
Start of the work

New MAC to open in 2021