3,500 public artworks can be viewed in various public spaces throughout Quebec

Wherever you go in Montreal, chances are you’re mere steps from a work of art. Sure, you can find art in galleries and museums, but there’s also oodles of creative talent on display in the city’s myriad restaurants, hotels, metro stations and government buildings.

Thanks to the Politique d’intégration des arts à l’architecture et à l’environnement des bâtiments et des sites gouvernementaux et publics(Policy for the integration of the arts into the architecture and environment of government and public buildings and sites), some 3,500 public artworks can be viewed in various public spaces throughout Quebec. Close to one third of Montreal’s public artworks were acquired through this policy.

Numerous health institutions have benefitted from this bold public arts program, including Quebec’s largest hospital centre, the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, or the CHUM, as it’s known.

Inaugurated in 2017, the CHUM received several awards for its architecture and is one of the finest examples of the successful integration of art and architecture. It boasts such works as La vie en montagne, by Mathieu Doyon and Simon Rivest. An eye-popping monumental work covering over eight floors, it features a series of mountain images embedded in the glass facade. Another sensationalwork that embellishes this building is Klaus Scherübel’s art installation Sans titre (L’artisteau travail), depicting a seated human figure in front of an undulating metal surface.

In all, the CHUM has 14 permanent works on display, with three more coming. But even without the new additions, this hospital boasts the largest concentration of permanent artworks in Montreal since Expo 67.

Close on its heels is the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, Canada’s largest mother and child hospital centre. Its collection of 20 artworks includes a dozen acquired through the art integration policy. Among them, Le Soleil de nuit,by Marcelle Ferron (stained glass, 7.7 m x 9 m) features a series of images in windows, created in collaboration with the Cirque du soleil, and Dans l’oeil de ce monde,byMarie-Christiane Mathieu, depicts a totem pole with the names of 600 children who were treated in the Charles-Bruneau pavilion.

Turning from the health care system to the business district, the Maison Manuvie, owned by Ivanhoé Cambridge and Manulife, houses Colorimètre, by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. This spectacular interactive work on the wall of the main lobby is made up of 500 coloured panels with 30,294 bulbs that are activated by the colours captured by a camera in the large hall. A yellow coat, a red hat, a blue handbag… the colours detected are transmitted to the luminous panels, which offer passers-by an infinite palette of colour in motion.

Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, provides us with scores of examples of art integrated into architecture, though not all fall under the aegis of the government’s art integration program. Above all, this company considers this gesture an action of social responsibility aimed at creating living spacesto foster the well-being of people, whether a building is a government facility or not.

Thus far, the biggest winners from the policy have been Le 1000 De La Gauchetière, the Édifice Jacques-Parizeau and Place Ville-Marie. Among the works worth checking out is Nicolas Baier’sstriking Autoportrait, which will resume its place on the Place Ville-Marie esplanade once the revitalization project of this space is completed.

Ivanhoé Cambridge has also handsomely endowed the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel. In collaboration with Sid Lee Architecture and MASSIVart, 123 new artworks were installed on various floors, including the famous Suite 1742, where Yoko Ono and John Lennon stayed during their bed-in for peace.

Ivanhoé Cambridge’s collection of artworks on display in various Montreal buildings numbers more than 300, of which 90% were created by an artist from Quebec or elsewhere in Canada.