Montreal is one of nine Canadian cities that has been invited to tender a bid for the Portrait Gallery of Canada, but so far no one in town has stepped forward to toss a serious bid into the ring.
'We are analyzing the information available at the moment, but we need more details,' Danielle Champagne, communications director at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, said yesterday.
'It is too early to say whether (the museum) would be interested.'
In November, the federal government announced it was inviting bids from private-sector developers in selected urban centres. Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver were on the list.
So far, Calgary has presented the most serious bid, with its city council pledging $500,000 towards a bid.
'The city of Montreal would obviously love to have the facility in Montreal, but at this point we haven't made a final decision,' executive committee spokesman Darren Becker said. 'We want to make sure Montreal has a realistic chance of securing the facility before making any kind of overture. We will continue our evaluation in the coming weeks.'
The Portrait Gallery of Canada is administered by Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. It has amassed over 20,000 art works and 4 million photographs since the 1880s.
A plan to establish the gallery in the former U.S. Embassy, across the street from parliament, fizzled following the last federal election.
In a 2006 memo obtained by Canwest News Service, then heritage minister Bev Oda stated that, ideally, the gallery would need 17,500 square feet of exhibition space, but that it was possible a smaller facility might do.
The memo also said the costs of relocating the facility and its staff would be considerable and the operating budget might rise to $8 million from $5.5 million.
Text by The Gazette (Montreal) 2007