After years of searching for a new home, Montreal’s McCord Museum will stay where it is and instead undergo a massive expansion.
The museum, dedicated to Montreal’s rich history, will remain on Sherbrooke St. across from McGill University, but will almost triple its exhibition space with a $180-million renovation, combining the McCord, Stewart and Fashion museums.
With 250,000 visitors every year, the museum says it's a victim of its own success.
“Life is strange sometimes,” said McCord Museum President Suzanne Sauvage. “You have to go full circle to come back and realize it's a fantastic location.”
Last year, the McCord thought it had secured a new site near Place des Arts, only to discover the city had other plans. That location, currently a parking lot, will become a park.
It left the museum scrambling – but the administration came up with a different idea.
The city is letting the McCord build on Victoria St. with a gift of $15 million. The idea isn't so much to build out as it is to build up.
“I want it all,” said Mayor Valerie Plante. “I want to have a fantastic McCord Museum and to have the three museums together is fantastic. So I wanted the best space for the McCord Museum, and I also wanted to have green space downtown.”
Currently, the museum can only display about 1% of its collection, compared to 4 to 5% at other museums.
One-third of the funding for the expansion will come from private donations; the other two-thirds split equally between Quebec and Ottawa.
The Emmanuelle Gattuso Foundation has already pledged $15 million.
“I can't think of something more significant than helping this museum, the museum of the City of Montreal, to expand and become internationally renowned,” said Emmanuelle Gattuso.
The museum will close for two years to complete the renovations, but there’s no timeline yet as to when the work will begin.