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McCord Museum's Urban Life through Two Lenses wins award for on-line excellence

Montreal, Thursday, November 20, 2003 — The virtual exhibition Urban Life through Two Lenses has been recognized for a second time for its innovation, this time by the Société des musées québécois (SMQ). The McCord is the first institution to receive the SMQ's Télé-Québec Multimedia and Audiovisual Prize, presented in October at the organization's annual conference in Montreal. In selecting Urban Life the jury praised its excellent integration of diverse navigational tools and rich content. This award arrives on the heels of other industry accolades: in 2002, Urban Life was recognized at the Digital Marketing Awards as a site that "truly explore[s] the medium to deliver a unique experience or perspective."

Urban Life through Two Lenses (www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/urbanlife) is a unique virtual space, revealing a century's worth of changes by juxtaposing historic and contemporary photographs of Montreal and pairing them with games, trivia and image manipulation tools. The virtual exhibition takes as its starting point the iconic images of Notman & Sons, a leading 19th-century photography studio whose staff photographed Montreal's streets, churches, markets and ports - works that now reside in the McCord's Notman Photographic Archives. Each selected Notman & Sons image, dating from 1863 to 1918, is contrasted with a photograph taken by Andrzej Maciejewski (1959- ) a contemporary photographer and practicing artist. In between 1999 and 2001, Maciejewski returned to the scene of each original image and rephotographed each site, paying careful attention to capture the same vantage point and time of day.

But Urban Life's Web interface is more than a simple juxtaposition of photographs. Three different perspectives, that of a historian, a museologist, and photographer Maciejewski, provide specialized insight into each set of images. With each perspective come unique interactive tools for exploring the photographs, as well as trivia questions, observation games and links to related artifacts in the McCord's collections. Meanwhile, the accompanying sound track recreates the distinctive ambiance of each photo's time and place.

Created under the direction of Dr. Nicole Vallières, the McCord's Director of Collection and Information Management, Urban Life represents a collaborative effort on the part of the McCord team, historians Joanne Burgess and Gilles Lauzon, and photographer Andrzej Maciejewski. With this exhibition the McCord provides the public with yet another innovative tool for accessing its remarkable collection. Urban Life is the second in the Museum's program of virtual exhibitions — launched in 2001 with The Magic Lantern and later joined by The Victoria Bridge — The Eighth Wonder of the Modern World — that aims to apply new information technology to educational ends.

Those intrigued by the images featured in Urban Life through Two Lenses can learn more about the photographs at the McCord Museum through the exhibition After Notman — Photographic Views of Montreal, A Century Apart, on view until July 25, 2004. Visitors can also take these views home, along with insightful essays and Maciejewski's reflections on each duo, through a high-quality book of photography entitled After Notman — Views of Montreal, A Century Apart published jointly by the McCord and Firefly Books, now available in the McCord's Boutique.

The virtual exhibition Urban Life through Two Lenses was created by the McCord Museum, in partnership with lab)idéeclic!, with the generous support of the Virtual Museum of Canada, through which Urban Life through Two Lenses can also be accessed (www.virtualmuseum.ca).

Source and information:  Nike Langevin, (514) 398-7100, ext. 251