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Montréal Museum of Fine Arts continues making impressions

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MONTREAL — Often called “Canada’s Cultural Capital” and North America’s first designated UNESCO City of Design, Montréal is a center for numerous repositories of visual art, science, literature and historical artifacts.

A prime reason is the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (or Musée des Beaux Arts Montréal), whose permanent collection and temporary exhibitions rank among the finest and most innovative on the planet. The museum is Canada’s oldest art institution, dating to 1860.

Seventy-four French paintings from the collection of the Williamstown, Mass.-based Sterling and Francine Clark Institute went on exhibition at Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in mid-October and runs through Jan. 20, 2013. “Once Upon a Time … Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark” is organized by the institute and presents masterpieces just shown in Europe of Impressionism — a late 19th-century style of painting known for bright colors splashed in short brush strokes.

“This is the first exhibition devoted solely to Impressionism to be shown in Quebec,” said Nathalie Bondil, MMFA’s director and chief curator. “Robert Sterling Clark, (nicknamed ‘Mr. Anonymous’ because he built up his collection in the greatest secrecy) assembled what is undoubtedly, along with those of his rivals Albert Barnes in Philadelphia and Duncan Phillips in Washington, one of the three finest collections of this kind on the continent.”

Twenty-one paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir along with works by Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Edgar Degas, Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Jean-François Millet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are part of the exhibition. Degas’ famed sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is part of the display along with the earliest bronzed versions cast by Hébrard of the piece, press officer Thomas Bastien said.

From Feb. 2, 2013, to June 16, 2013, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is presenting the first-time exhibition “Peru — Kingdoms of the Sun and Moon: Identities and Conquest in the Early, Colonial and Modern Periods,” with more than 350 works of Peruvian art — including more than 100 never seen outside the South American nation — curated from about 50 collections in Peru, Canada, the United States, France and Germany.

The museum’s Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art features the permanent display of Dominique Blain’s Mirabilia, a work created as part of the Quebec government’s effort to integrate art into architecture. To mark the pavilion’s first anniversary in October, the museum has on display Missa, an installation created by Blain 20 years ago.

The museum this month opened its new Studios Art & Education Michel de la Chenelière, an education wing with murals, graffiti and goldfish art and seven classrooms.

Other new features within the past year include the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, focused solely on decorative arts and design, and an expanded Sculpture Garden.

Also, Montréal philanthropists Michal and Renata Hornstein donated their collection of Old Masters to the museum last spring.

The museum offers group rates and guided tours, with more details available online or by calling (514) 285-2000, option 3, or (800) 899-6873.

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