The Government of Quebec held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Espace Riopelle pavilion, an expansion of the Musée national des beaux‑arts du Québec (MNBAQ), in Québec City.

The $84-million 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. Last year Canada celebrated Riopelle’s 100th anniversary with initiatives and events across the world, including the announcement of the new pavilion at the MNBAQ.

“The official launching today of the Espace Riopelle construction site affords us an opportunity to express our delight with this unifying, innovative project. Our government is proud to support this major project, a genuine legacy for the community. What is more, it is indeed poetic to conclude the festivities surrounding Riopelle’s centenary with the opening of the pavilion planned in 2026,” said Mathieu Lacombe, Minister of Culture and Communications.

The pavilion dedicated to Riopelle’s legacy is one of the largest cultural infrastructure projects in Québec since the inauguration of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion in 2016.

“Québec city is a city of culture and history. A new page of history is being written today through this institution that will highlight an outstanding artist and standard bearer of visual art. It is a privilege to be able to build this major cultural facility in Québec City. Riopelle’s masterpiece Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg could not have a finer showcase. Thank you to the numerous partners and visionary art-loving patrons who are contributing to this valuable legacy,” said Bruno Marchand, Mayor of Québec City.

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The MNBAQ also wishes to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by the engineering team from AtkinsRéalis and the project manager CIMA+, that will bring this exceptional project to life in the coming years.

Construction of the bright and elegant Espace Riopelle pavilion is scheduled to be complete in 2026. Six months prior to the official inauguration, a selection of Jean Paul Riopelle’s most exciting works will be installed as part of the MNBAQ’s permanent collection. The new public spaces will be prepared for the official opening as well.

When it opens in 2026, Espace Riopelle promises to be a dynamic audience experience, allowing visitors to rediscover one of Quebec and Canada’s most acclaimed artists. The pavilion will fuse themes of art and nature, which defined Riopelle’s life and work, and it will seamlessly connect the MNBAQ to the famed park it is situated on, the Plains of Abraham. In addition, digital art and the outdoor installations will make this meeting place an indispensable attraction to the region of Québec City.

The Riopelle pavilion has a budget of $84 million, with contributions from several public and private partners, including the Québec government, Québec City, the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation, and the Fondation du MNBAQ. It will meld perfectly with the existing museum complex and become a harmonious link between the Gérard Morisset Pavilion, the Charles Baillairgé Pavilion, and the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion in addition to enhancing the experience of visitors and art enthusiasts.

Carefully selected materials will be utilized to construct the contemporary, luminous pavilion, where light, innovation, and distinctive architecture serve as the project’s hallmarks. Its technological and innovative features promise to surprise and delight the public.

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Beyond the architectural features, this major project reflects a vision of inclusion and accessibility that shapes the entire MNBAQ museum complex by becoming the gateway to a space devoted to research and education that will incorporate educational programs for the general public, students, and researchers aimed at heightening awareness of the importance of art in society.

“With this great legacy of the Riopelle centenary celebrations, we honour the memory of one of the most illustrious artists of all time and a formidable cultural hero,” said Michael Audain, chair and co-founder, Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation.

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a government corporation subsidized by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec.

“Much more than a new pavilion, the Espace Riopelle promises our museum complex a glowing future. It sets in motion a project that transcends Riopelle’s work and will also incorporate an educational project in the arts and make our establishment even more attractive to local and international visitors. I would like to thank the MNBAQ’s teams, who are already contributing to making this adventure a resounding success,” said Jean-Luc Murray, director general of the MNBAQ.

The Espace Riopelle Pavilion is the provisional name. The official name will be announced when it is chosen.

Featured image: Photo from left to right: Darren Bolduc, Julie-Anne Vien, Jean-Luc Murray, Bruno Marchand, Manon Gauthier, Yseult Riopelle, Yoshiko Karasawa, Frédéric Gascon, Fabrice Alcayde, Mathieu Lacombe, Michael J. Audain, Éric Gauthier, Chantale Shah and Mathieu Rivest © Stéphane Bourgeois (CNW Group/Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec)

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