The two levels of government, federal and provincial, will inject an additional 56 million into the expansion project of the Museum of Contemporary Art, financing the work to the tune of 105 million, learned La Presse. An announcement that will allow the management of the museum to return to tender with a total budget of 116.5 million.

The expansion project of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), which has been on hold for a year, will come back to life thanks to the injection of new public funds. The announcement will be made this Friday by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, and the Minister of Culture and Communications of Quebec, Mathieu Lacombe.

The Ministry of Culture and Communications, which had already committed to investing 30 million in this project, will increase its stake by 25 million for a total of 55 million. For its part, Canadian Heritage, which had put just over $18 million on the table (from the Building Canada fund), is adding $31 million (from the Investing in Canada infrastructure program), for a total of $50 million.

As for public funds, we are talking about an increase of 56 million. The rest will come from the private sector, as was already planned, thanks to the Museum Foundation, which will contribute 11.5 million. In total, the budget for the MAC transformation project therefore increases from 57 million to 116.5 million.

In an interview with La Presse a few months ago, Minister Mathieu Lacombe indicated that the MAC file was a priority and that he would take care of it “personally”. “We cannot afford to have a museum institution as important as the MAC closed for two years without the work taking off,” he said.

This new financial package should allow the MAC to return to a call for tenders, probably in the fall. In an ideal scenario, the works could thus begin in the spring of 2024. It would take 28 months before they are finished. Another six months would be needed to repatriate the permanent collection. In this case, the reopening would probably take place in 2027.

The MAC’s transformation work aims to double the museum’s exhibition area and showcase its permanent collection. The aim of the reorganization of the interior spaces is also to improve the accessibility of the building and of course to modernize it.

In the spring of 2022, the Musée d’art contemporain had called for tenders with a total budget of 85.3 million – its budget of 57 million had been increased by Quebec by 25 million a few months before thanks to a special reserve from of the Quebec Infrastructure Plan.

Even so, the submissions received exceeded expectations “by more than 50%,” according to MAC CEO and Chief Curator John Zeppetelli. The call for tenders split into 25 lots was then canceled in June, even before all the bidders could respond.

The project has since been put on hold. The Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI), which manages the project, then indicated that the MAC, which is a state-owned company, would have to “re-examine the conditions for carrying out the project”.

John Zeppetelli preferred to see his institutional donors to ask them to increase their stake, in order to carry out the project as drawn up by the architectural firm Saucier Perrotte. Both levels of government ultimately responded favorably to his request.

The decision to leave Place des Arts in the spring of 2021, before completing the call for tenders and having a start date for the work, still raised questions. The MAC has established its temporary headquarters in a much smaller space in Place Ville Marie, which obviously cannot accommodate any major exhibition.

Its permanent collection, largely stored in the museum itself, is no longer accessible to the public either. A moratorium on the purchase of new works is also in effect.

The current version of the MAC expansion project was first presented in the spring of 2018. It had a budget of 44 million. But the work, which was to start in 2019, has been postponed. The budget increased to 57 million, but the pandemic followed and so did the postponements.

2012 A first $88 million expansion project is submitted by the Musée d’art contemporain, directed by Paulette Gagnon. He was finally rejected by the Liberal government of Jean Charest.

2014 A new version of the expansion, to 44 million, is proposed by the director general John Zeppetelli, appointed in 2013. The minority government of Pauline Marois approves it, but the project is finally abandoned.

2017 The MAC expansion project is reborn, still valued at $44 million. It is detailed in plans produced by the firm Saucier Perrotte. It will be unveiled in April 2018. With the promise of construction in 2019.

2019 The project is postponed, the budget is insufficient, forcing management to redo representations to governments. The budget increases to 57 million. But the following pandemic postpones the project again.

2021 The MAC moves to Place Ville Marie in the hope of seeing the work begin the following year, in 2022. The management calls for tenders in the spring of 2022 with an amount of 85.3 million. But the bids for the first batches are too high. The project is stopped.