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A part of our Canadian heritage

by Archives September 28, 2005

This weekend, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with Concordia’s Gail and Stephen Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, will host a National Symposium on Collecting and Exhibiting Canadian Art. Curators, historians and researchers from museums all over the country will be flown in to discuss the issues regarding the collection and preservation of Canadian Art.

At a time when Canadian identities are continually changing and being challenged, the symposium will offer a forum to discuss these questions in regard to collections of Canadian Art before 1950. The two day event will be held at the Maxwell Cummings auditorium Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1.

The symposium was designed to give students and the public a chance to interact with people involved in the Museum environment. Dominic Hardy, an MMFA Public Programs Officer outlined the Jarislowsky Institute’s contribution, saying, “Concordia has taken a leadership role in Canada to develop Canadian Art History as a discipline of study.”

There will be an opportunity to look at Canada’s history through its treatment of Canadian Art in its national and local galleries. ” The public often asks how an art exhibition is put together,” said Hardy. ” This symposium will explore how exhibitions from different parts of the country were assembled and displayed. Many museums have the same story of Canada’s national history. What is interesting to see is how the local content blends together with the national content to create a visual representation of that history.”

By having the participation of some of the nation’s most prominent curators, the public will get a chance to feel the pulse of what is going on in other parts of the county.

“Students will get a different perspective of how Canadian Art is diffused these days,” said Sandra Paikowski, professor of Art History at Concordia and guest speaker at the conference. Her topic, The Exhibition and the Maritime Art Association, is an example of how a local association influenced the national dialogue in ways of presenting art.

The symposium will be split into three main categories, with a fourth dedicated to discussing Edwin Holgate, an artist who represents the advent of modernism in Canadian Art between two World Wars. This discussion will conclude the symposium Saturday afternoon. Holgate is currently being displayed at the MMFA until October 2nd.

Friday morning will open with Collecting and Exhibiting Historical Canadian Art in the Face of Contemporary Concerns. With directors and curators from Vancouver, Quebec, Ontario and Concordia’s Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, this part will cover what is transgressing at the national level with Canadian Historical Art.

The afternoon will present a very hot topic, The Future of Quebec’s Heritage and Religious Art in the Museums. “‘This topic is important because it reflects what Quebec society’s priorities are today with regards to it’s heritage,” said Hardy.

Saturday morning will feature Nationalism and Regionalism in the Narratives of Collections of Canadian Art. The discussions here will include historic representations of art from the Maritimes to the West and how they shaped the presentation of Canadian Art nationally.

There has never been an attempt to assemble curators from all across the country to discuss the situation of Canada’s art history, with an added twist of opening it to the public. Attending this symposium will be like taking a tour of Canada’s finest museums. “Students will have an opportunity at this symposium to see the people directly involved in the presentation of Canadian Art,” said Paikowski.

The symposium will take place at the MMFA’s Micheal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion, at 1379 Sherbrooke Street West, starting Friday, September 30, at 8 a.m. Students are encouraged to register at the mmfa.qc.ca web site to guarantee themselves a seat.

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