Montreal, Canada, 2011-05-24 -
The Montreal company La bande à Paul has designed the scenography for the exhibition “Expedition: Arctic,” in collaboration with Christiane Michaud. This exhibition relates the triumphs and tragedies that marked the first Canadian expedition (191318) to the Arctic and brings together more than 250 extraordinary artefacts and specimens, many of which are on public display for the first time. It is at the Canadian Museum of Civilization until 15 April 2012, after which it will tour various cities in Canada.
“From the start,” confides Martin Imbeault, co-founder of La bande à Paul, “we wanted to create a fresh, current, well-spaced display, despite the large number of artefacts on display and the large amount of content to transmit. We paid particular attention to the presentation of the artefacts, since part of the exhibition will be touring.”
Inspired by raw wood, cotton canvas, and bookbinder’s cloth and by the stone, snow, and ice that the explorers encountered on their early-twentieth-century expedition, as well as by archival photographs and handwritten documents, Imbeault and Vanessa Landry, of La Bande à Paul, created a resolutely contemporary scenography with colours and materials providing subtle reminders of the adventure and inviting visitors to walk in their footsteps.
A partition made of rough-finished wood modulates the space and acts as the backbone of the presentation. While letting light filter into the spaces ahead, it orients visitors through the exhibition’s eight zones, which are marked off by colours drawn from the hues of the Arctic – from the conventional grey and white to the more unexpected highly saturated greens and blues. By using this palette, the designers and David Gray, the curator, wanted to avoid the cliché of an exhibition in which white dominates and counter the too-widespread notion of a territory with only one season. To unify the different coloured zones, a horizon line appears around the periphery of the hall, giving a sense of the immensity felt in the Arctic. Inspired by a snowy landscape, it creates a fresh, luminous ambience throughout the exhibition, as do the irregular white shapes that are a stylized evocation of drifting ice floes.
In addition to colours, reworked photographs play an essential role in the exhibition layout. Treated in an original manner, they are the starting point for the zone panels and are used to create subtle ambience projections that draw visitors into the heart of the expedition (snowflakes swirling in front of the sled or water lapping and birds taking flight, bringing life to the ship). The designers have also devised a contemplative shelter to mark a pause in the visit. Sitting on a fur-covered ottoman, visitors can admire photographs of various kinds of shelters used in the Arctic and experience the lack of privacy of life in igloos, cabins, and tents.
Finally, for the styling elements for objects, La Bande à Paul adopted an approach of contextualization, rather than having the supports “disappear,” by using platforms of rough-finished wooden strips and artificial stone to display the artefacts. Instruments and supplies used by expedition members, tools and leather clothing made by the Copper Inuit, and a fascinating assortment of fossils, plants, and birds are found in display cases largely inspired by the aesthetic of collector’s cases, as conceived by the designers.
Founded in 2003 by Vanessa Landry and Martin Imbeault, La bande à Paul is a design and creative layouts studio specializing in cultural and commercial projects. La bande à Paul designs and produces the 3D image of various companies and institutions, including trade-show stands, kiosks, sales and promotional spaces, and museum exhibitions. La Bande à Paul has put its creativity, enthusiasm, and boldness to use for clients such as Hydro-Québec, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Recently, the company designed the exhibition for the brand-new Centre d'interprétation du Marais-de-la-Rivière-aux-Cerises in Magog, from content to design.
Project area: 6,000 sq. ft.
Project Manager for the museum: Danielle Goyer
Curator: David Gray
Senior interpretive planner: Karine Lelièvre
Designers: La bande à Paul in collaboration with Christiane Michaud scenographer
Graphic design: David Martin
Lighting design: Raivo Nommik
Video projections, supports, and treatment of objects, exhibition layout: CMC
Exhibition photographer: Younes Bounhar
Photographs of Vanessa, Martin, and Paul: Éric Lajeunesse