By McGill Reporter Staff
McGill will be taking part in this year’s Nuit Blanche à Montréal, with a selection of tours and activities open to the public that feature everything from monumental sculptures and foreboding dinosaurs to Egyptian mummies and after-hours chemistry demonstrations. Here’s a rundown of activities.
Public art in the dark
Night hawks and art lovers are invited to go for a walk and take in McGill’s art collection by flashlight on Saturday, March 4, during Nuit Blanche à Montréal 2017. One of the pieces that will be featured on the tours is a monumental sculpture originally made for the Russian Pavilion at Expo 67.
The meeting point is the famed Roddick Gates, at the top of McGill College, now completely invisible under a black tarp as they undergo renovations. The tours are at 9:15–10:00 p.m. (FR), 10:15–11:00 p.m. (EN), 11:15 p.m.–12:00 a.m. (FR), and again at 12:15–1:00 a.m. (EN).
The tours last 45 minutes and the flashlight is provided. Those who attend are advised to dress warmly since the entire session is outdoors. The tours will, literally, put the spotlight on a wide variety of objects including buildings, marble and cast metal sculptures, and abstract modern pieces by artists and architects from around the world.
“This relationship between art and architecture, which the tours will highlight, also reflects on the broader theme of this year’s Nuit Blanche: remembering Expo 67.” says Vanessa Di Francesco, the Visual Arts Collection Coordinator, McGill University Library and Archives “The impulse to integrate art into architecture, and both art and architecture into life, was also at the heart of Expo 67, with its thematic focus on the human community’s relationship to its physical surroundings. The World Fair’s impact is still felt across the island in the many structures and artworks that remain standing from that summer when the world came to Montreal.”
Di Francesco says the purpose of tours like this is to invite members of the McGill community to rediscover the art all around them – and the flashlight tour will allow people to see the collection in a “new light.” Many of the works in the collection mark important moments in McGill’s and Canada’s history, like Charles Daudelin’s Polypède or Gertrude Whitney’s Caryatid Fountain – both stories to be revealed during the tours.
Nuit Blanche at the Redpath Museum
There are also flashlight night tours inside the storied Redpath Museum for those who want to stay indoors. The tours are every hour from 7 p.m. to midnight on March 4.
“With a flashlight suddenly the orbits of the eyes of the stegosaurus seem alive, the scowling Samurai’s mustache can be seen, the Gorgosaurus’ sharp teeth become more menacing, the whole feeling is very different. It’s very quiet and dark and people tend to speak in hushed voices,” says Ingrid Birker, Science Outreach Administrator and head of the Redpath Museum Public Programs. “It’s such a wonderful way to showcase the natural and cultural heritage of the Redpath in a different light, and the perspective of night adds a whole new element.”
Birker says she was inspired to organize the flashlight tours of the museum by local parents who called to ask about sleepovers at the Museum. And, of course, there is the movie and book The Night at the Museum, she says smiling.
She points out that the flashlight tours are a great way to get to know one of Canada’s only teaching museums and its eccentric and fascinating collection. The Redpath has three mummies, a coffin, painted with hieroglyphics, mummies of various animals, a selection of pre-dynastic Egyptian pottery and stoneware, and a cast of the Rosetta Stone. Commissioned in 1880 by McGill benefactor, Peter Redpath, to honour the 25th anniversary of Sir William Dawson’s appointment as Principal, the Redpath Museum is an example of the Greek Revival style in North America.
Chemistry for the world of tomorrow
The chemistry department is hosting Nuit Blanche shows based on the accomplishments showcased at Montreal’s Expo 67. It’s a family-friendly way to revisit discoveries that have changed our world, while exploring exciting new advances in chemistry that are shaping the future.
Organized by the McGill’s Chemistry Outreach Group, the idea is to foster a deeper understanding of chemistry through fun and interactive experiments for all ages. Group members include departmental staff, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduate students.
Free demonstrations include an equal mix of educational information and exciting chemical and physical reactions. All of the demonstrations have a hands-on component.
There are four shows on March 4, 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at the Otto Maass Chemistry Building (801 Sherbrooke St. West), Room 112. Get more information online or call 514 398-7326