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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Montreal honours Hornsteins for museum gift

Tags: Arts
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Michal Hornstein, right, chats with Maka Kotto, minister of culture and communications, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

MONTREAL — An architectural competition has been launched by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) for the construction of a new pavilion that will house the precious Michal and Renata Hornstein Collection.

Michal Hornstein, 91, was on hand for the invitation to Quebec architects to submit plans for the MMFA’s fifth pavilion, which will exhibit the close to 80 Old Masters paintings donated by the Hornsteins last March, as well as other international art.

The collection, which consists largely of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish works, is valued at more than $75 million and is described as the only one of its kind in Canada.

The four-storey pavilion will be located on Bishop Street, south of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, and completed in 2017 to coincide with Montreal’s 375th anniversary. Two old greystone houses, possibly of heritage value, are on that site now.

The Hornsteins, who are Polish-born Holocaust survivors, have been major benefactors of the MMFA for more than 40 years. They previously donated other art now worth tens of millions of dollars.

The original MMFA pavilion is already named for the couple, and what the new pavilion will be called is to be determined.

The Quebec government is contributing $18.5 million toward the construction, while the private sector will be responsible for the additional operating costs.

The new pavilion will be linked to the Desmarais wing by a bridge over a lane separating the two buildings.

MMFA director and chief curator Nathalie Bondil noted that the Hornsteins had just been named Great Montrealers in the cultural sector by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, for their longtime generous support and, in particular, for the Old Masters donation. She described it as the largest private contribution to a Quebec museum in modern history.

This is the first time a couple has been named to the board of trade’s long-hall of honour and recognizes their partnership as collectors and patrons.

“I have lived in Montreal for 60 years,” said Hornstein, who made his fortune in real estate. “The city has given me so much. I love Montrealers, I love the Quebec people, who are so warm and welcoming.

“This donation is a kind of thank you, a way to give back.”

The new pavilion will also display the Napoleonic collection donated by the late Ben Weider’s family in 2008.

The competition is open to all Quebec architects with an office in Montreal. The three finalists, to be chosen by a jury before the submission of drawings, will be made known in February.

The winner will be announced in April.

As per the Hornsteins’ stipulation, the collection will be open to the public free of charge at all times.

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