Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Canadian Centre for Architecture

The Canadian Centre for Architecture is one of the best museums in Montreal. It is the best because it is not the most popular. CCA consistently puts forth exhibitions that are unabashedly intelligent and thus are rarely blockbusters. This is a museum that uses words like contrapuntal distribution. This is a museum for adults. A museum that challenges visitors to explore new worlds and new ideas without the constraints of having to appeal to the general public. There are no language debates, no identity politics, and no Quebecois propaganda.

My favourite museum in Toronto is the Textile Museum. There's always something interesting to see at the ROM and the AGO has done wonderful things since re-opening, but the Textile Museum is smaller, less mainstream and more refined. All reasons why I love the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The current exhibit Space Odysseys is not CCA's best, but certainly worthy. Part of the thesis is that space tourism forces us to reconsider our relationship to our planet. The idea is that odysseys, virtual or real, ultimately return to tell us about our world. This is not a connection that I would have made, but that's what CCA does best. Presenting the work of people who push the boundaries, who ask us to reconsider what we think and how we view our world.

Most museums have signs to indicate that one shouldn't touch objects or take pictures with flash. It is taken for granted that people will accept the instructions and comply. CCA explains why we should not touch the objects on display. I assume that most people who visit CCA aren't the people who are going to think they can handle museum objects, but the signs show a respect for the visitor and a commitment to education that other Montreal museums would do well to learn from.

23 down. 9 to go.

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