Philanthropy for Art’s Sake

©   Sebastien Roy It was a recent Tuesday that brought about the second installment of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Yo...

© Sebastien Roy
It was a recent Tuesday that brought about the second installment of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Young Philanthropists’ Circle cocktail mixer and vernissage.  Gaining even more traction among MTL urban professionals since a highly successful inaugural gathering last October, the initiative, like those of many cultural institutions in the same position, aims to build a new generation of museum benefactors through organizing innovative, exclusive events for professionals and entrepreneurs in the 25 to 45 yr. old bracket.  In exchange, the events enable guests to further build their ‘know-who’ roster among the city’s next generation of business, society, and cultural leaders.

At the helm of the Committee is Xerox Account Manager Marc-Antoine Saumier who states how, for more than a century, the Museum has invited the public to discover an ever-evolving artistic world and that joining the prestigious group helps to ensure the future viability of a MTL landmark, with many benefits attached.

Indeed, what makes the concept work so well is that guests can choose to mingle at the cocktail, get acquainted, or else escape to the exhibit hall and take in the collection in what is virtually a private showing.  When it’s over, you feel like you’ve had just the right mix of socializing, art appreciating and, appetizer sampling for any winter weeknight. IN fact, the mid-January date was well timed to coincide with the last leg of the Impressionists exhibit, featuring world-renowned works by such masters as Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec. 

The first nod to the evening’s success, though, was the venue. Thinking that the event would be held in the same hall as the inaugural cocktail back in October, I mistakenly went to the Desmarais Pavilion on the south side of Sherbrooke, but was glad to be redirected across the street to the white marble façade, high portico, colonnade, and ornate staircase of the Hornstein Pavilion.  As an aside, the landmark building was inaugurated in 1912, the same year as that other ‘Grande Dame’, the Ritz Carlton hotel. 

As we made our way up the grand entrance, graceful on-pointe ballet dancers dotted the staircase and referenced one of the more prominent subject matters from the Impressionist era. No doubt, it was a soft and beautiful touch to open the evening.

© Stéphanie Perron

© Sebastien Roy

On and on to the actual cocktail, the reception itself took place in the ground floor hall, with access to the exhibit from upstairs.  Now I’ve always thought one of the best set-ups is a central bar/food station from which things are served outward.  Here, bubbly, red and white wine from Zonin flowed freely from the far side, with the requisite refills from staff circulating among the guests, while the front part featured two unique offerings.

The first was freshly sliced prosciutto courtesy of Tripes and Caviar, and the other was an absinthe bar by Maji Water. The prosciutto was Parma, and possibly the best, most perfectly seasoned I’ve tasted, while the absinthe engaged guests with the traditional preparation of pouring water over a sugar cube placed on a slotted spoon held over a glass of the enigmatic liquor.  Both offered a très cool and original twist to the evening as they went beyond the simple ‘signature cocktail and canapés’.

© Stéphanie Perron

A few brief speeches later, the crowd thinned which is when I took to the exhibit hall to marvel at the collection.


Of course, there what would an MTL cocktail be without some signature MTL-style. 

© Sebastien Roy
 Olivier Perron Collins, Jamie Woods et Philippe d'Etcheverry

Afterwards, some called it a night, while others hit a très branché resto - I’m told members of the Committee hit Delmo in the Old Port.  While tempted to follow and get the scoop on how it all went from the organizers, I decided to keep the memory alive and look forward to bringing you he next exclusive soirée – more to come once I get the 411. In the meantime, the evening - from the place, flow, special extras and, of course, connected young MTL-ers who are there for their ‘Grande Dame’, was nothing short of a masterful oeuvre. 


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