Expanding a museum, saving a church

At the end of the year, the Museum of Fine Arts will start work on a new expansion that will engulf the former Erskine and American Church, located across the street at the corner of Sherbrooke and du Musée. Built in 1910, the church contains one of the world’s most important collections of Tiffany stained glass windows. Its interior and exterior will be restored while a new museum building, designed to house the MFA’s collection of Canadian art, is built around it.

As attendance at many of Montreal’s traditional Catholic and Protestant churches dwindles, we’re faced with the question of what to do with all of these old buildings. There isn’t any obvious way to reuse them, since their design is so inflexible and they usually contain so many sensitive architectural elements, especially inside. So far, churches in Montreal have been converted into libraries, community centres and, of course, condominiums. But conversion is often a costly endeavour and many ordinary parish churches just aren’t worth the effort. Not every church, unfortunately, can become part of a museum.

See mtlurb.com for more information on the MFA expansion.

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