International Artists on Display at Open-Air Museum

Richard Burnett

An open-air museum will display works by Canadian and international artists, and fly the flags of some 200 countries all summer long. La Balade pour la Paix / An Open-Air Museum is a major public art exhibition on Sherbrooke Street celebrating Montréal’s 375th anniversary, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 and the 150th anniversary of Canada.

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Open-air Museum in the heart of Downtown

Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in cooperation with the McCord Museum, La Balade de la Paix / An Open-Air Museum will stretch along a one kilometre-long span of Sherbrooke Street for five months, from June 5 to October 29. The grand installation was created by world-renowned Montréal landscape designer Claude Cormier, and takes its cues from Expo 67’s futuristic style.

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67 Works of Art and 200 Flags for Peace

Running from the McCord Museum to the MMFA’s newly opened Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, La Balade pour la Paix features art bearing messages of peace, reflecting the universal values of humanism, tolerance and openness that inspired Expo 67. The route will also fly the flags of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and of some 200 other countries, reminiscent of Place des Nations which was decked out in colourful flags, a highlight of the Montréal Universal Exposition.

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Canadian and International Artists on Display

Along the route, 42 photographs will be displayed on the front and back of 21 gigantic stelae. Renowned contemporary Montreal photographers have travelled the world to capture images inspired by the Expo 67 values of openness, peace and diversity. Also on display will are 29 monumental sculptures and installations from world-renowned Canadian and foreign artists, from Alexander Calder to Keith Haring.

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Totem Pole Tribute to First Nations Children

Artist Charles Joseph of the Kwakiutl Nation of the West Coast of Canada will unveil his a monumental piece (21.45 metres tall) called Residential School Totem Pole, which will open the exhibition route in front of the MMFA’s Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion.

The totem pole is a tribute to First Nations children – of which Joseph was one – who were taken from their families and sent to religious residential schools. In 2015 the Canadian government acknowledged these children had been the victims of a cultural genocide between 1820 and 1996. Joseph’s totem pole is a symbol of reconciliation and commemoration.

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Justice and Human Rights

The exhibition’s ambassador is Louise Arbour who has spent her entire career fighting for human rights. Arbour has sat on the Supreme Court of Canada and held a number of important posts at the United Nations, including High Commissioner for Human Rights. She currently serves as an Ad Hoc Judge at the International Court of Justice and is the UN Special Representative for International Migration.

“The exhibition conveys the basic values of peace and humanism that are so dear to my heart,” says Arbour. “Expo 67 helped open Montréal and Québec up to the world, and today, 50 years later, people from all around the globe call the city home, sharing their cultures and hopes for peace. This exhibition is a wonderful gift to Montrealers of every origin and a remarkable testament to the city’s 375th anniversary.”

La Balade pour la Paix –An Open-Air Museum runs along Sherbrooke Street West between the MMFA/Concordia University and the McCord Museum/McGill University, from June 5 to October 29. For more information, visit www.375mtl.com.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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