“Les Maîtres de l’Olympe”, exposition au Musée de la civilisation de Québec

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Mythical Olympus

What at first appeared to be an architectural constraint for BISSON + CASTONGUAY turned out to be the deus ex machina from which they created the Masters of Olympus exhibit. The exhibition hall in Quebec City’s Musée de la civilisation, where the collections are displayed, contains a number of columns, which the designers managed to integrate as part of the narrative. They even added a further four, to make 12 columns in all for the 12 great gods of Greek mythology. A sloping platform rises slowly towards an azure sky projected on a screen to suggest the summit of Mount Olympus, home of the gods.

Masterpieces of Greco-Roman art from the Berlin Antiquity Museum’s classical antiquities collection, including jewelry, ceramics, statues, sculptures, and reliefs, are presented here for the first time in North America. These rare artefacts have a curiously modern quality and stir the emotions—could they not be considered to belong to Western culture too?

Contemporary scenographic language is used throughout the design to emphasize the didactic aspect of the exhibition, by means of reproductions on glass panels of paintings of the great masters from the 16th to 19th centuries, and other unifying themes. By playing on opaque effects and reflections of light, the designers come up with ingenious aesthetic solutions—deii ex machina, of course, since in the kingdom of the gods, subterfuge reigns—such as the shining cloth used to represent water, reflecting the statues in pools, which add to the dreamlike atmosphere of this Exhibitions award winner.

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