Exhibition Review | Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion

Located in Montréal, Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion has a huge collection of around seven thousand pieces of designed and crafted objects brought together on two spacious floors; 1st of which is devoted to the modern and contemporary designs (1930 to today) mainly furniture and jewelry from around the globe. The second floor is covered with many decorative items from the renaissance to 1930 and a mesmerizing collection of glass works. There are also some stand-alone rooms on this level (referred to as cabinet of curiosities1) in which some of the ancient American and middle-eastern works are displayed. Low-key lighting of these closed rooms in contrast to the main large space provokes a sense of mystery and  discovery. This was perhaps the only dramatized part of the experience.

Assembling such a vast variety of design styles from different designers and various periods altogether in one open space was in my view a bit damaging to the cohesion of the experience and made the purpose of the exhibition a bit vague; You could barely track any stable underlying message that the curator and exhibition designer is trying to convey or to recognize the rationale upon which the objects are categorized. Although the floating white and red elements in U and L shapes were visually connecting the adjacent spaces together, it still could not completely fasten the disparity of objects scattered all over the place.

In addition to the information panels, a carriable catalogue in which an overall layout and logic of the arrangements are illustrated could made navigation more fun and easier. Alternatively, creative use of interactive screens could broaden the targeted types of visitors as introduced by Phillip Hughes in Exhibition Design book (2010: 42) from solely the visual learners to auditory and kinesthetic ones. Moreover, since the objects were completely extracted from their temporal and spatial contexts, adding some documentary photographs of them functioning inside the human environment could breathe life into the dead looking objects. The high vertical wall covered with many different furniture up to the ceiling was just a reminder of the pinned insects in a museum of entomology.

Exhibition Review

The architecture of the museum with a contemporary style is perfectly in line with the overall theme of the exhibition. The entrance area of the building decorated with metal sculptures in abstract forms is very inviting and auspicious. However, the main entrance lobby of the building was not that impressive, as it gave the feeling of getting into an antique shop rather than a museum. The open terrace on the upper floor is another architectural feature that provides a necessary lounging space you felt you need after exploring the first floor.

Exhibition Review

What made this visit special for me was encountering with some of the most well-known pieces of furniture design from well-known architects, which I had not had the chance to see in the real physical world before; It was nice to see for instance how the scale and proportions of the Red-Blue Armchair from Gerrit T. Rietveld was very different than what I imagined.