New vision of the MNBAQ, under the direction of Jean-Luc Murray

Nouvelle vision du MNBAQ sous la direction de Jean-Luc Murray

Photo: Marie-France Coallier The Duty
Jean-Luc Murray is the first director of the MNBAQ in 25 years, if not more, to not have a past of conservative.

Dream, again. Jean-Luc Murray arrives at the head of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) with the firm intention of raising the public institution on the rails of a grand new adventure. It remains to be defined, but nothing seems more beautiful to the successor of Line Ouellet of reinventing the wheel.

“I accepted the mandate, he said in his first interview since his appointment in November, because the board did not seek the status quo. He is looking for something. What ? This is not expressed clearly, but they loved my enthusiasm to the idea of trying the adventure. “

Somewhere between the established and the unknown. Between the “hustle and bustle real estate” yesterday — these are his words to evoke the pavillon Lassonde, inaugurated in 2016 — and the dream of tomorrow. Or between the erudite and the popular. Caught in the inevitable in-between, the MNBAQ has to strike a balance, ” says its new director general.

“If you want to have the intelligent air, it is called concatenation, [otherwise] it’s just the song Three little cats. ” It is by this comparison, which is cited to refer to the work of the art historian Jean-Hubert Martin, Jean-Luc Murray has revealed his whole personality. His task will be to place the MNBAQ between the poles of intellectual and emotional level.

“We don’t know exactly what you want to do, but what I’m saying is that this is not normal for a visitor kind of a museum without having been confronted, seduced, thrown off “, he says.

Director atypical

Jean-Luc Murray is the first director of the MNBAQ in 25 years, if not more, to not have a past of conservative. Artist training, the native of Charlevoix has, however, served multiple functions in multiple museums in quebec. He describes himself as a ” proud product of museology “. It is in the education services, including at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (2009-2016), which he made his reputation.

For a director, his profile is quite atypical, ” admits the one who has directed the Museum of Charlevoix between 2007 and 2009. “It probably is [a result] of the willingness of museums to make them more accessible works “, the judge said it about his own appointment.

The new strong man of the MNBAQ does not get carte blanche as a “strategic plan” runs until 2022. In the last annual report, the chairperson of the board of directors, Christiane Germain, evokes even the opportunity to ” see far and wide “.

This museum will be as exciting as what the teams have in the belly. After the hustle and bustle of the real estate project, they must be in a state of dreaming.

— Jean-Luc Murray

The budget of the State museum runs around $ 20 million. If he concedes that the MNBAQ is not rich, Mr. Murray has been reassured by the credit that the new government caquiste give it at the next budget. “We do not jump to the ceiling, but we are satisfied,” he says.

Jean-Luc Murray has included in the strategic plan such as the one heading to ” a museum citizen, inclusive, a place of life “. After the yard around the pavilion Lassonde, place it in the ” project human “. “We’re in the phase where it is necessary to humanize the museum. The first human that needs to be addressed, it is our employees, ” he said, recognizing the shortness of breath which has been pushed to the staff.

If it evokes lip service to the abolition of a post during the construction of the pavillon Lassonde, it promises to be now in a hiring process. Two weeks after the interview, the MNBAQ indeed announces search for two new directors (to the mediation and experience of visitors and the communications and marketing). All in all, says Mr. Murray, ” a dozen posts are to be filled “.

Secret ingredient to find

Ambitious, Jean-Luc Murray does not pretend to arrive with his large hooves. It also prefer to present himself as a colleague rather than a boss. He holds out his hand, and the ear values communication. It is with all the employees and the MNBAQ is to refine.

“This museum will be as exciting as what the teams have in the belly. After the hustle and bustle of the real estate project, they must be in a state of dreaming. “

The challenges are certainly not short of. The director-general wants to find “common denominator” with the people of conservation, and does it by example. Otherwise, it lacks a ” little secret ingredient “, the one who will further the museum.

“Our strength of attraction for the moment is not on our collections, it is on our know-how and our buildings. At any given time, there will be an additional ingredient and this will be the personality of the museum, ” he said, in his vivid language, when questioned on his international visions.

The director does not give details on future collaborations with foreign countries, except to note that his recent visits to Dallas and Paris are related to ” good ideas “. It should be noted that the programming is already tied up until 2021. The next big piece is titled, Miró in Mallorca. A free spirit, planned for the summer and the result of a collaboration with the foundation of the catalan painter.

Playful, surprising, inclusive… In the mouth of Jean-Luc Murray, these words make up the quality of an exhibition and its museography. Without having specific projects, exhibitions — or without wanting to reveal, who knows ? —, put it on the mix of genres, reconciliations unusual between, for example, an ethnographic object and an abstract painting. What he has seen in recent months in Europe, to The swimming Pool museum in Roubaix, near Lille, at the Museum of hunting and nature, Paris, or the Museum of ethnography of Neuchâtel, gives him reason.

It provides not wanting to change the mission of the MNBAQ, but knows he must to do more to open its doors to the arts less supported. The new exhibition drawn from the collections — 350 years of artistic practices in Quebec — made the observation that a museum is not representative of the diversity.

“It takes less to go in the collecting of classic artists. It changes the posture of the museum, which will be less in the validation, more in a discourse of a discoverer, an explorer, ” says Jean-Luc Murray.