McCord Museum scrambling for new home after city reneges on promise

Officials at the McCord Museum say the Plante administration is backing away from a promise made by the previous Coderre administration for a new space.

The museum, which specializes the social history of Montreal and Canada, is currently located on Sherbrooke St., across the street from McGill University. The head of the museum, Suzanne Sauvage, says former mayor Denis Coderre had promised her a new location for the museum, adjacent to Place des Arts, on a space occupied by a parking lot.

But last spring, while reading a newspaper, she found out the Plante administration had decided to turn that space into a park instead.

The space is located across the street from en entrance to the Place des Arts metro station, behind which sits Jardins Domtar, a private green space adjacent to the pulp and paper company's headquarters. The green space, however, is being sold to a condo developer, which prompted Plante to move to create the new park, telling a city council meeting the area sorely lacked one.

Sauvage says she was shocked by the apparent about-face.

“We talked with the previous administration, and they agreed to reserve the site for us,” Sauvage said. “We have a donation that was pledged — a very large donation of $15 million two years ago, so the donor is getting a bit impatient.”

She says the city did propose three other potential sites for the museum, with the stipulation that the museum be located somewhere that's accessible by foot, and by public transit.

The museum has 1.5 million objects, but can only display a tiny fraction of them at its current space — only 1 per cent. The rest are in storage.