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Jacqueline Desmarais passes away (1928-2018) – The MMFA Salutes the Memory of a Great Lady

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Jacqueline Desmarais – The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has expressed its great sadness on learning of the death of Mrs. Jacqueline Desmarais, who passed away on March 3 at the age of eighty-nine. Deeply committed to the arts and music, she participated in the artistic vitality of Montreal through her support of its cultural organizations, including the MMFA.

 The Museum wishes to acknowledge Mrs. Desmarais’s invaluable contribution to the enrichment of our collective cultural heritage. As a private individual, together with other patrons, she contributed to the acquisition of the glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly entitled The Sun (2003), which has become an icon for the citizens of Montreal. Alongside her husband, business leader Paul G. Desmarais (1927-2013), the founder of Power Corporation, and her family, she promoted the implementation of the project for the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, which was built in 1991 thanks to a major donation from the philanthropic couple and Power Corporation.

 Together with her husband, she also chaired in 2013 the first event of the fund-raising organized by the MMFA Foundation in Florida. Known for her active involvement in the campaign, she added her personal touch to even the smallest detail. The net profits of the evening made it possible for the Museum to acquire the famous Twin 6′ Hearts (1999) by the artist Jim Dine that now stand in front of the main entrance of the Museum’s Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion. Her great love of music led her to present concerts by her protégé the cellist Stéphane Tétreault in the Bourgie Hall of the MMFA.

 “The Montreal community has lost a generous philanthropist and lover of the arts. On behalf of the board of trustees and the staff of the Museum, I offer her family and friends our sincerest condolences”, said Jacques Parisien, President of the Museum board.

 Nathalie Bondil, director general and chief curator of the MMFA, recalled: “Mrs. Desmarais’s delight in music was infectious, her elegance that of an earlier time. The sounds of her real and generous love of music and the human voice could be heard many a time around the piano in her home. I have had some unforgettable opportunities in her drawing room to hear performances by internationally famous singers and instrumentalists from Quebec: she cherished them as if they were her children. This was how I came to hear the brilliant cellist Stéphane Tétreault playing on his Stradivarius, with great feeling, her favourite tune, The Meditation of Thaïs by Jules Massenet.”

 As a knowledgeable lover of music and the arts, Mrs. Desmarais fully appreciated the Museum’s Bourgie concert hall. She revelled in the originality of our multi-disciplinary exhibitions twinning the plastic arts and music, such as Splendor a Venezia and Chagall: Colour and Music. In her personal capacity, this radiant and warm-hearted lady supported the acquisition of our outdoor sculpture, Dale Chihuly’s The Sun, which has become a Montreal icon… as she was herself.”

Feature image: Jacqueline Desramais with the Honourable Serge Joyal at the 2012 Museum Ball. Photo: Denis Bernier

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