Travel Blog

4 Oct



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    Fall is a must-visit season at the McCord Museum, with famed photographer Edward Burtynsky’s panoramic look at oil and a high-tech way to discover the history of Montreal…

    Edward Burtynsky: Oil is, as the title implies, about oil. Huge colour photos (56 in all) by famed photographer Edward Burtynsky examines the substance on which the world runs. What struck me immediately was the sense of scale. His landscapes – the oil fields, sun-lit silhouettes of oil rigs sitting in the sea and storage areas  – are all vast. My favourite is a zig-zagging oil pipe, whose shiny silver surface slices through a forest, its greenness razed to make room for the pipe’s path.

    And therein lies Burtnsky’s quiet message. For years, the principle behind the artist’s images has been how industry is affecting our environment – and not in a good way. But the nature he shows us is blemished; disfigured by the marks of man, be it clear-cut trees or over-used marble quarries. The McCord exhibition is organized thematically. First, the images of refining sites show the origin of oil’s pivotal power.  Then the photos document the world of transportation. Finally, the end of oil is shown.  With Edward Burtynsky’s empathetic eye, a terrible beauty is born as the artist renders oil – a subject  wrought with issues of politics, policies and pollution –  into stunning scenes. (TIP: Edward Burtynsky will be at the McCord to talk about his work on Thursday October 6 at 6:30 p.m. His exhibit opens the same day.)

    Ever wonder what Montreal used to look like?  Well, now you can. Montreal’s McCord Museum has launched an exciting ‘treasure hunt’ via a free cutting edge app. For a museum dedicated to preserving the old – the history of Montreal– that’s pretty cool!

    IPhone owners can download an app called MTL Urban Museum which superimposes archival images over your smart phone’s camera view. I tried it out: it’s simple –and really fun! When you are walking around Montreal, look down. There are 150 sites – huge red dots that say McCord Museum MTL Urban Museum. Click on the app to see what that site looked like around 100 years ago. You can see then and now images simultaneously right on your smart phone. (Regular cell phones can get the info and a photo from another era, but only smart phones can drop in the superimposed images.) You can see all the images and more at the McCord. This great presentation has been added to the museum’s permanent exhibition.

    The show highlights 10 facets of Montreal’s past – from its early occupants, through the wealth of the Golden Mile and the excitement of Expo 67. Each of the key historical moments is set up in its own space, showing items from that moment in time.  A few of my favourite things? A unicycle, with its huge yet delicate front wheel (how did they balance?!), and a hoop worn by ladies to support their long skirts. Curiously, the hoop looks like a Lady Gaga creation! At the entrance of each historical environment there are touch-screens, so you can listen to an historian describe the era in front of you.



    Edward Burtynsky: Oil, October 6, 2011 to January 8, 2012

    McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke Street West, (514) 398-7100


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