Collections and Research
Totem urbain – Histoire en dentelles
At 4:30 in the morning, at dawn on an unusually warm day in March 2015, a large chunk of ice fell from a cornice of the Museum, badly damaging a sculpture below. This work, Totem Urbain – Histoire en Dentelles by Pierre Granche, was commissioned by the McCord Museum to celebrate its renovation and re-opening in 1992 and has for over 20 years delighted visitors walking down Victoria Street. Nestled in an exterior bay, seventeen intricately cut and constructed brass figures, reflecting the Museum’s collections and illustrating moments in the history of Montreal, form a procession along an intricate and multilayered glass base. The ice tore through the glass base, leaving a gaping hole at the north end of the work.
McCord Museum staff reacted quickly to secure the area to make it safe for passers-by. The Conservation Department, formulated a treatment to repair the damage and improve the work’s overall stability. During the summer and early fall of 2015, conservation company CSMO (Conservation of Sculpture, Monuments and Objects), headed by Alexander Gabov, carried out this challenging treatment, which began with the removal and treatment of all the brass components and the design of a more secure system for attaching them to the rest of the sculpture. After careful examination of Pierre Granche’s work on the base, the conservation team decided to remove and replace all of the glass, using his techniques to recreate the striking visual effect of the original. The lighting inside the glass base, which had not been functioning for years, was updated and rewired, enabling the sculpture to once again be viewed at night, as the artist intended.
The treatment was successfully completed in October and visitors can now admire the work anew, back in its niche on Victoria Street.
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