MONTREAL — Vintage toys and unique photos take center space at the McCord Museum.
First up — and most appropriate for the holiday season — “Toys” provides an interactive exhibition for the young — and young at heart. Designed for children aged 3 to 9, this year’s fourth edition features a collection of vintage space-themed toys dubbed “Mission Cosmos,” where visitors can help a scientist find his way back home.
Youngsters are invited to crack a secret code that also aims to rescue the stranded Professor Copernoc. Along the way there are plenty of colorful clues as well as some cool nostalgic toy memorabilia. Of note: classic Star Trek figurines, an Apollo 11 lunar module replica kit from 1969, and a 1960s Mattel Thingmaker, a small tabletop device that let kids (like myself way back when) create a bevy of scary bugs out of heated soft molded plastic. I must say it brought back some great memories — my brother and I used to hide the bugs in our pants pockets and wait for our grandmother to do the laundry.
“Toys” continues through April 6.
Next is “Claire Beaugrand-Champagne: Touching Reality,” an exhibition of some 200 mostly black and white poignant photographs taken by Beaugrand-Champagne from 1970 to this year. Beaugrand-Champagne is considered the first female press photographer in Quebec and her documentary photography-style subjects include portraits of individuals in their living and work environments.
“Her photo essays, which paint an eloquent portrait of Quebec society, find the extraordinary in everyday life and remind us that each individual is unique and every life is worth recounting,” a press release states. “Touching Reality” continues through April 13.
More photos, this time with a view from above, get interpreted in “Plotting from Above — Mishka Henner and Montreal Aerial Survey.”
In collaboration with the 13th edition of Mois de la Photo a Montreal, an annual photo contest open to the general public, “Plotting from Above” offers a collection of vintage 1970s-era drone-style aerial photos of Montreal taken long before Google Maps ever came about. The exhibit then showcases aerial shots turned digital art with works by British artist Mishka Henner, who used Google Earth and digital publishing techniques to create a new geometric way of looking at the Dutch coastline.
“Plotting from Above” continues through Jan. 5.
Also not to miss is “Wearing Our Identity: The First People Collection,” the newest permanent exhibit that explores clothing, culture and identity with some outstanding wearable art — from a mother’s fur amauti made with a built-in pouch used to carry an infant to a stately feather headdress — all made by contemporary Aboriginal artists.
Big news is the merger between the McCord Museum and the Stewart Museum, which is located in an actual fort in the shadow of the Jacques Cartier Bridge on Parc Jean Drapeau. Announced earlier this year, the two historical-themed institutions have begun combining administrative duties and integrating their respective collections.
While both entities continue to operate under their own names, the merger of the new museum — The McCord Stewart Museum — will launch some time in 2014. Above said, visitors can now enjoy an adult rate of $20 good for admission to both museums.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.IF YOU GO The McCord Museum is at 690 Sherbrooke St. W. Admission costs $14 for adults, $10 for seniors (65 and over), and $8 for youths 13 to 30. Admission for "Toys" is free for children 12 and younger. The McCord is open to the public for free from 5 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday evening. Call (514) 398-7100 or visit www.mccord-museum.qc.ca.