OMA's first project in Canada aims to integrate the
building with the surrounding park and initiate new links with the
The expansion, linked underground with the museum's three existing buildings, is located on Quebec's main promenade, Grande-Allée, adjacent to St. Dominique Church.
"The new building, the museum's fourth building in an increasingly complicated site, interconnected yet disparate, is a subtly ambitious, even stealthy, addition to the city rather than an iconic imposition, one that creates new links between the park and the city, and new coherence to the MNBAQ.
Our design aims to weave together the city, the park and the museum; it is simultaneously an extension of all three./Rem Koolhaas
The intricate and sensitive context of the new building generated the central questions underpinning the design: How to extend Parc des Champs-de-Bataille while inviting the city in? How to respect and preserve St-Dominique church while creating a persuasive presence on Grande-allée? How to clarify the museum's organization while simultaneously adding to its scale?
Our solution was to stack the required new galleries in three
volumes of decreasing size - housing contemporary exhibitions, the
permanent contemporary collection and design / Inuit exhibits - to
create a cascade ascending from the park towards the city.
While they step down in section, the gallery boxes step out in
plan, framing the existing courtyard of the church cloister and
orienting the building towards the park. The park spills into the
museum, through skylights and carefully curated windows, and the
museum into the park, though the extension of exhibitions to the
The stacking creates a 14 meter high Grand Hall, sheltered under
a dramatic cantilever. The Grand Hall serves as an interface to the
Grande-allée, an urban plaza for the museum's public functions, and
a series of gateways into the galleries, courtyard and
The new building offers many different trajectories and
experiences. Complementing the quiet reflection of the gallery
spaces, a chain of programs, foyers, lounges, shops, bridges,
gardens, along the museum's edge offers a hybrid of activities, art
and public promenades.
Along the way, orchestrated views outside reconnect the visitor
with the park, the city, and the rest of the museum. Within the
boxes, mezzanines and overlooks link the temporary and permanent
exhibition spaces. On top of each of the gallery boxes, roof
terraces provide space for outdoor displays and activities.
Surrounding the skylights are alternating bands of wood decking and
paving for public activities and exhibitions.
/Rem Koolhaas OMA
The new building connects with the Pavilion Charles-Baillairge (1867), a former prison, by a tunnel rising 8.2m over its 55m length. While at first the sheer length of this tunnel and the change in elevation might appear to be awkward obstacles, they in fact create a surprising mixture of gallery spaces that lead the visitor, as if by chance, to the rest of the museum complex.
Facts about MNBAQ
Estimated completion: 2013
Partners in charge:
Shohei Shigematsu & Rem Koolhaas
Associate in charge:
Mathieu Lemieux Blanchard
Provencher Roy + Associés Hélène Gauthier Roy
Engineers: Buro Happold Consulting
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Last updated: December 19, 2013