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Frequently Asked Questions

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

The Espace Riopelle Project

What is the Espace Riopelle project?

This project, which will profoundly transform the MNBAQ, involves the construction of a world-class building to house the largest private collections of Riopelle’s works. These collections are being provided to the MNBAQ by a group of Canadian patrons. Together with the national collection, they will comprise the world’s largest public collection of the artist’s work. The project will enrich the MNBAQ’s activities, programs, and strategic vision of a Musée that is accessible to all Quebeckers while enhancing Quebec City’s landscape with a stunning new building in the Plains of Abraham.

Why is the MNBAQ undertaking this project?

Thanks to the MNBAQ and the generosity of several exceptional patrons, Quebeckers have a unique opportunity to welcome and showcase a group of extraordinary works by Jean Paul Riopelle from private collections, making them accessible to the public.

This project will entail a significant addition to the national collection and will enrich Quebec’s heritage by giving one of our most illustrious artists a place of honour at the MNBAQ. The new pavilion’s facilities will also provide new opportunities for artists and visitors. This historic development will allow the MNBAQ, in collaboration with the public, to define the Musée of tomorrow.

Why Riopelle and not another artist?

Jean Paul Riopelle was one of the most internationally influential Quebec artists of his era, and one of the most recognized masters of Quebec’s modern art movement in France and the United States.

Riopelle paved the way for Quebec’s remarkable art to achieve recognition around the world. His contribution to the history of art is both indisputable and extraordinary. Riopelle’s art transcends borders: his works can be found in public and private collections in over 60 cities in 18 countries on six continents. With links to figures such as Joan Mitchell, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Sam Francis, and Zao Wou-Ki, he remains one of the most admired Canadian artists in the world. A source of great pride in Quebec, Riopelle’s eminence as an artist is well deserved.

In addition, the programming at the new pavilion will provide a space for diversity, with a focus on women and First Nations: for instance, there will be opportunities for dialogue between contemporary and emerging artists and the works of Riopelle.

How many works will be added to the national collection?

The MNBAQ’s Riopelle collection consists of 447 pieces, making it the largest public collection in the world. The MNBAQ currently anticipates that 68 major Riopelle works (39 from Michael J. Audain and 29 from Pierre Lassonde) will join this collection. This exciting news will create a ripple effect that may result in the MNBAQ acquiring other works by Riopelle that have not yet been confirmed as donations.

Couldn’t the MNBAQ have used the existing buildings?

Several options were considered before a new building was chosen as a solution. This option proved to be the best suited to meet the vision of the Riopelle Foundation, the group of patrons, and the MNBAQ.

It also allows the Musée to preserve certain elements of the built heritage: namely, the central pavilion, which would have needed major repairs and renovations. Because existing elements (such as the storage area) will be retained, the location of the project minimizes its impacts. The choice of location will also improve visitor reception.

Is it realistic to expect the building to be completed between late 2025 and early 2026?

Through its past achievements, such as the 1991 expansion (involving the annexation of Quebec City’s former prison and the addition of the central pavilion) and the building of the Pierre Lassonde pavilion in 2016, the MNBAQ has demonstrated expertise in construction projects.

To avoid cost overruns and undue delays, all stages of the project will be managed meticulously and carried out with the utmost care.

What were the selection criteria for the architectural competition?

The jury chose the concept proposed by Les architectes fabg following a meticulous examination of the four finalists.

Each finalist team was asked to develop its initial conceptual approach in the form of a functional solution, with due regard to the project’s needs technical and budgetary constraints. At the conclusion of this process, the level of advancement of the sketches was meant to offer an overall view of the project’s conception. It was also intended to reveal the quality and depth of the reflection of the firm selected with the aim of initiating the integrated design process with MNBAQ and Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation teams. More specifically, the jury members had to determine whether each proposal met several high-standard criteria, including:

  • Respectful integration with the landscape and historical and architectural context of the location (particularly the Charles- Baillairgé Pavilion, a heritage building);
  • Creation of a strong landmark at the entrance to the Plains of Abraham historic site that harmonizes with the museum complex day and night;
  • Design of a distinctive, thoughtful, and high-quality structure that communicates with the nature around it and reflects the vocation of the future pavilion, namely the display of Jean Paul Riopelle’s art;
  • Creation of an accessible and innovative museum space in terms of visitor experience;
  • Appropriateness of the formal treatment and recovery of as many systems and networks as possible (mechanically, electrically, and structurally) to meet the LEED certification target;
  • Technical feasibility and compliance with the construction budget.

Access to the Musée, exhibitions, and collections

The Espace Riopelle will replace the central pavilion and be attached to the Gérard-Morisset pavilion. It will serve as an intersection between the Musée’s existing buildings. This will call for our spaces to be reorganized. To prepare for this step forward and allow work to proceed, the Gérard-Morisset and central pavilions are closed to the public since January 2023.

Why the two pavilions are now closed?

It will give our teams the time and conditions they need to complete the preparatory phase of the work. This long interlude is necessary for a transformative project of this scale.

Which areas are still accessible to visitors?

All public and exhibition spaces in the Pierre Lassonde pavilion are accessible.

During the construction, how can we access the Musée?

The Pierre Lassonde pavilion at 179 Grande Allée Ouest is the main entrance to the Musée. The entrance to the central pavilion is no longer accessible.

Where can we park?

The paid parking lot behind the Charles-Baillairgé pavilion (the former prison) remains open throughout the project.

Will the works on display in the Gérard-Morisset and Charles-Baillairgé pavilions be accessible again once the work is completed?

When the new pavilion is officially opened, the other pavilions and their rooms will be reopened gradually, but the works they exhibit may have changed.

How this affects the services offered at the Musée?

All the services are centralized in one pavilion. The cloakroom, Librairie-Boutique, restaurant, tours, corporate activities, and group check-ins are now located in the Pierre Lassonde pavilion.

How this affects the activities offered?

Even though the layout of the complex is changing temporarily, we will continue to offer you a range of programming. The public can enjoy our cultural activities throughout the Pierre Lassonde pavilion and in the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Auditorium, the Grand Hall, public spaces, and the new spaces created in exhibition rooms.

Do you still offer space rentals for private or corporate events?

All spaces in the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion can be rented during construction. Learn more about space rental


I’m a Musée Member. How this affects membership?

Member satisfaction is our top priority, and our team wants to minimize the impact on our members. The most popular benefits—free and unlimited access to the Musée, priority access to major exhibitions, exclusive events for Members, and special rates on services and activities—will not change. We are also adjusting some of the privileges offered to our Members to best respond to their interests.

The membership packages will remain the same: Member (18–30 years old, 31–64 years old, 65+), Duo (two Members or one Member + one guest), and Allié (philanthropic).

You will be the first to know about any changes to the Musée’s offerings.