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Espace Riopelle

MNBAQ building the future

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec will open a new chapter in its history with the creation of the Espace Riopelle, a pavilion dedicated to Jean Paul Riopelle that will be integrated into the Musée’s existing complex.

Project Overview | News | Highlights | Architectural Competition | Budget and Schedule | Jean Paul Riopelle at the MNBAQ | FAQ

Riopelle’s dream...

The bond between Jean Paul Riopelle and the MNBAQ began many years ago. In 1956, the MNBAQ became the first museum to acquire one of Riopelle’s works, and it has been passionately committed to promoting the artist ever since. Today, the MNBAQ houses the largest public collection of works by the painter and sculptor.

In the 1980s, Riopelle himself dreamed of creating an exhibition space devoted to his own work in dialogue with the work of other artists, in what is now the Charles-Baillairgé Pavilion. Soon, in almost the same spot, his dream will become a reality.

Construction will begin in 2024. Located at the end of Wolfe-Montcalm Avenue and overlooking the Plains of Abraham, the new pavilion will replace part of the current Central Pavilion. With its breathtaking views of the river, the building’s exceptional location will reflect the distinctive qualities of Riopelle’s work, particularly its deep connection with nature.


  • To create an architectural environment with open, light-filled spaces for contemplation and reflection.
  • To connect art, nature, and culture to foster a rich and nuanced appreciation of the work of Jean Paul Riopelle.
  • To offer innovative technology to personalize the experience of visitors.
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“The Espace Riopelle will be a true intersection and create a focal point within our museum complex. Located in the heart of the Musée, the site will reflect our vision of a living and inclusive museum and will function as a locus of contemplation and discovery. This distinctive and innovative space will welcome people from all over the world to encounter and explore the foremost collection of Jean Paul Riopelle’s work.” – Jean-Luc Murray, MNBAQ’s Director General



Québec City, Saturday, May 4, 2024 ¤ The groundbreaking for the Espace Riopelle pavilion took place in Québec City. The $84M project is inspired by one of Québec’s most renowned and beloved artists, Jean Paul Riopelle, who captured the attention of Canada and the world with his fearless creativity and iconic artworks.

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Photo: © Stéphane Bourgeois

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  • Display and enhancement of the largest public collection of Riopelle’s works
  • Realization of innovative projects, particularly in digital art​
  • Creation of new dialogues between Riopelle’s work and that of contemporary artists from all disciplines
  • Enhanced and improved overall experience for visitors
  • New educational programs focused on accessibility and inclusion
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Following the architectural competition, held from March to August 2022, the Québec firm Les architectes fabg was chosen by the jury to design the Espace Riopelle. The concept was developed in collaboration with SNC-Lavalin and LEM experts-conseils.


Les architectes fabg: an impressive profile

Founded in Montréal for over sixty years but known as Les architectes fabg since 1988, the Québec firm is reputed for the quality of its achievements, for which it has received nearly 50 awards and mentions in Québec and around the world. Under the direction of Éric Gauthier, winner of the Prix Ernest-Cormier, the most prestigious award bestowed by the Government of Québec in architecture, the firm has overseen technically and environmentally innovative projects such as the headquarters of the Cirque du Soleil, the head office of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (with Lemay), the Théâtre de Quat’Sous, and the Auditorium de Verdun.

The firm has recently received the Grand Prix d’excellence of the Ordre des architectes du Québec and has particulary stood out in the museum sector, by transforming the Musée d’art de Joliette, restoring the Stewart Museum, converting the former US pavilion by Buckminster Fuller at Expo 67 into the Biosphere, an environmental museum, and creating the Montreal Science Centre in warehouses in the Old Port of Montréal.

“Our first objective was to harmonize with Riopelle. Inspired by a revealing expression of the artist who said that he was constantly fleeing, we wanted to create a building that reflects his work in perpetual motion.” – Éric Gauthier, architect and partner from the winning firm

A choice that reflects Riopelle’s work

The architecture will lend itself to numerous interpretations through its terracing in keeping with neighbouring buildings that sometimes evokes the artist’s studio with its wooden ceilings and sometimes the northern environment and the Isle-Aux-Grues landscape with its green terraces displaying varied species. Natural light will bathe the proposed circuit, which will culminate in the circular space devoted to Riopelle’s masterpiece L’Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg (1992), where the public will also be able to admire spectacular views on the Plains of Abraham and the majestic Saint Laurence River.

“The notion of territory, indissociable from Québec’s identity and Riopelle’s works, also admirably inspired the winning firm. Both the works in the Québec collection and those recently donated by patrons of the arts will broaden the influence of Jean Paul Riopelle’s monumental work and the new pavilion will make the overall experience of the MNBAQ even more memorable. The future Riopelle Space will become a genuine source of collective pride.” – Christiane Germain, Chair of the Board of Directors of the MNBAQ


Here are the four applications selected by the jury to move on to the final stage of the competition:


The competition is decided by a jury of seven members who have complementary backgrounds and expertise: four eminent architects, two museum specialists, and a representative of the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation.

From left to right: Jean-Luc Murray, Director General of the MNBAQ; Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, Head of Education at the Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts; Alain Fournier, architect; Dominique Jakob, architect (Jakob + MacFarlane); Marie-Chantal Croft, architect; Georges Leahy, architect; and Manon Gauthier, Executive Director of the Jean Paul Riopelle and General Commissioner of the Centenary Celebrations.


MNBAQ’s Director General

He has a multifaceted experience in the field of museology, where he has held various positions in the sectors of education, conservation, exhibition design as well as organization management.


Education Director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts

She is an expert in the development of targeted audiences whose work has been recognized by her peers in American, Canadian and European museums.

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A Quebec architect that has designed many buildings internationally. For several years, he has devoted himself to projects north of the 55th parallel in northern environments.



A French architect with rich international experience. Her firm, Jakob + MacFarlane, is recognized for its playful and innovative vision, its specialization in issues related to winter weather as well as its sensitivity to sustainable development.

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A Canadian architect recognized for her many achievements, including Quebec City’s Théâtre Le Diamant, and whose expertise is related to the construction or renovation of buildings in complex environments.



A retired architect with a solid backgroung in the renovation of heritage buildings in Quebec City, including the Îlot du Palais and the Petit Séminaire de Québec.

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Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation’s Executive Director and General Commissioner of the Centenary Celebrations.

A renowned cultural and philanthropic leader in Quebec and Canada, she has contributed to the development of many organizations at the national and international levels.

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This major project will be completed thanks to a unique partnership between the Government of Quebec, the MNBAQ, and the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation.

  • Contribution from the Government of Quebec: $44 million
  • Contribution from the City of Québec for the creation of a brand new room dedicated to his monumental L’Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg (1992): $5 million.
  • Contribution from patrons of the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation: $25 million
  • Contribution from Fondation du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec: $10 million

Key Phases

December 2021

Patrons of the arts from the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation made a historic gift to the MNBAQ of 68 major works by the artist worth more than $100 million.

The Québec government, the patrons of the arts from the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, and the Fondation du MNBAQ committed themselves to creating the Espace Riopelle.

March 31, 2022

An architecture competition was launched for the Espace Riopelle.

May 19, 2022

The finalists in the architecture competition were announced:

July 4, 2022

Québec City announced a $2.5-million contribution to the Espace Riopelle at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

Funding from Québec City will cover the cost of a new exhibition room devoted to Riopelle’s monumental fresco Homage to Rosa Luxemburg.

September 7, 2022

Les architectes fabg is the winner of the Espace Riopelle architecture competition.

September 2022 to november 2023

Preparatory work commences prior to the construction of the Espace Riopelle.

(Nearly 9 000 works are moved, exhibitions near the future construction site are dismantled, works in the reserves are made secure, and certain MNBAQ teams are relocated.)

The ultimate step in the architecture competition is completed, i.e., the integrated design process, which has facilitated the production of 100% complete drawings and specifications and a better evaluation of costs.

December 7, 2023

A call for tenders was launched for the construction of the future pavilion.

April 3, 2024

The construction contract was awarded to CONCREA.

May 4, 2024

Commencement of the work.


Opening of the Espace Riopelle.

Jean Paul Riopelle at the MNBAQ

The largest public collection of Riopelle’s works

The celebrations of the centenary of Jean Paul Riopelle’s birth will culminate in the inauguration of the new pavilion at the MNBAQ. But the Musée has not waited until now to honour Riopelle’s work, having devoted numerous exhibitions and publications to the artist over the years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find questions and answers about the Espace Riopelle.

Read the FAQ