Monday, August 2, 2010

Pointe-à-Callière, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History

Everyone who knows me well knows that I can't stand this museum. I recognize that I was disappointed when the Prison museum was objective, but I do generally expect that exhibitions will reflect scholarship and not personal agendas. PaC has always struggled to be objective, their text is usually frustratingly laughable, and their permanent collection is so outdated. I didn't have high hopes for their current offering about Easter Island.

And I was pleasantly surprised. Negatives first. The temporary exhibit space is one of the most poorly designed galleries I've ever visited. The space has narrow passageways with text on one side and objects on the other. It requires one to either do two circles around the space or constantly zig back and forth. There were a few textual errors but by and large it was the best temporary exhibition I've ever seen at PaC. The exhibit designer did a wonderful job with the graphics and imagery that gave wonderful reference points for understanding scale and time periods. There were a lot of interesting facts and details. Who knew that there are no large shells on Easter Island. Don't know if I needed to know that, but it was interesting.

The permanent collection has text on neon coloured lightboxes. Its so painful I could barely look at them. I suppose I've seen it so many times that its no longer particularly interesting. I think its a good school/tourist destination. Why not walk through Montreal's old sewers that have pigeons projected on the side? My favourite part of the museum is their audiovisual terminals, which goes against everything I believe in. However, its my favourite because they are so friggin awful you can't help but laugh. Actors portray different people from early Montreal. A touch screen allows you to ask the characters questions, sort of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. I suppose they provide an interesting entry point into life in early Montreal, but I usually just end of laughing hysterically at the crappy acting and odd choice of questions. They have to be seen to be believed.

20 down. 12 to go.

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