Pointe-à-Callière unveils updated presentation of its archaeological ruins
In December 2016, Montreal’s Museum of Archaeology & History Pointe-à-Callière unveiled a series of exciting updates to their permanent exhibition. A project more than a year in the making, GSM Project collaborated with the museum to breathe new life into the city’s most cherished archaeological remains, lying just below street level - the foundations of Montreal.
Our history with Pointe-à-Callière dates all the way back to 1992 when the museum first opened its doors. After years of collaborations, we teamed up once again in 2014 to rethink interactivity and storytelling in the permanent exhibition built on the exact location where Montreal was founded in 1642. The result is a compelling experience bringing to life the architectural remains in an immersive and unconventional way, taking visitors on a narrative journey back to the beginnings of this city.
Although at the heart of the museum, the permanent exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière hadn’t been updated in 12 years. To get the project kickstarted, our design team spent a week in field research on site to understand the complexity of the ruins. Layers of centuries-old buildings meld into one, making it incredibly difficult to get a sense of what you’re looking at. In fact, it took our team the entire week to decipher the ruins. This made it clear that any visitor spending an hour in the space was most likely experiencing the same sort of confusion. We knew that storytelling would be the key to engaging the visitor’s imagination, showing them just how remarkable the ruins truly are.
Our challenge: To design an installation without ever touching the ruins themselves. We wanted to create a timeless experience that could be easily integrated into the existing exhibition. In other words, it wasn’t about overwhelming the space with technology, but rather using it in an efficient way to tell Montreal’s story. Across three distinct zones, interactive games and touch screen maps engage visitors with the exhibition’s content. And a light, sound and media installation suspended above the archaeological ruins tells their story in a 7 minute multimedia show.