By Andrea de Gosztonyi
Watermarked photos by Andrea de Gosztonyi (photos without watermark courtesy of McCord Museum)
Cirque costumes on display at the McCord Museum
The Dream Weavers Costumes by the Cirque du Soleil is an exhibition of costumes, props and video clips of some of the key outfits that have been created over the past 25 years by the talented craftspeople that make the stunning outfits worn by the Cirque performers at the McCord Museum Montreal Quebec, Canada May 26 to October 11, 2010. Through this exhibition I marveled at the brilliant colors and the wide varieties of fabrics used in the confection of such works of art. These costumes are more than mere outfits, they actually represent visually the creative spirit of the Cirque du Soleil. Located within walking distance from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in Montreal, Canada (about a 10 minute walk east along Sherbrooke Street) this costume exhibition is a fine complement to the Inspiria exhibition at the MMFA.
McCord Museum features Cirque costume show until October
The exhibition is on the upper level of the McCord Museum and is located in one large room that is visually divided by swirling screens into three distinct areas. I remind my friend that on entering the first area they should look on the wall for a large hook with cards suspended on a metallic ring. I passed right by it, looking for indications beneath the objects of which there were none. A smiling museum guide indicated the cards to me and suggested that I might appreciate referring to the cards for information. These numbered cards (about the size of a large playing card) are in sequence with the number of the items on display. Each card explains the costume, or item, and places it in context with the show. The guide retrieved these cards when I left the first area and showed me where to find the second set of cards for the next area. No photographs were allowed in this exhibition.
Paintings from Cirque decorated the exhibit
A selection of 25 costumes from Cirque shows created between 1984 and 2009 was on display. There were also 30 different costume props, masks, shoes, hats and wigs that could be seen up close. At the end of this exhibition there was a large flat screen TV with a touch sensitive screen. By touching an icon located on the screen, I could access over 50 sound bites and video segments pertaining to the various shows including some excerpts of interviews with costume designers and craftspeople.
North American Indian display at the McCord Museum
I found it very interesting to hear about the difficulty of creating costumes for circus performers. Some of the creations were actually conceived in collaboration with the artists. In fact, the overall impression that I got from viewing these clips is that much of what is done in the Cirque du Soleil appears to be in collaboration. Artists, directors, craftsmen and choreographers toss ideas and concepts around before settling on a given creation. Some of the clips were of the costumes on display as seen during the show.
Exhibits from the Notman collection were also on display
It was possible to see this small exhibition in less than an hour. It was certainly worthwhile to visit the rest of this museum, as the McCord, although small in size, is one of the most important museums in Canada. The McCord is dedicated to the preservation, study, diffusion and appreciation of Canadian history. It is home to one of the largest historical collections in North America and is affiliated with McGill University.
Only a fraction of the collection is on display permanently and another area of the museum is devoted to rotating thematic exhibitions from their impressive archival collection. When we visited, an exhibition on the Irish immigration to Quebec was on display. Also, the permanent exhibition, Simply Montreal, gave us an interesting background history of the city of Montreal through archival photographs from the Notman collection as well as a selection of objects and artefacts, clothing, toys and sports equipment from the past. McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal Quebec Canada H3A 1E9 (Handicap access through the entrance located at 2175, Victoria Street on the west side of the building), Telephone +1 514-398-7100, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mccord-museum.qc.ca