Relocating the items was quickly identified as the main challenge in the project to save the collection. We had to find a space that was vast, affordable, to keep rental prices accessible; and centrally located, to remain near the major broadcasters.
The Gaston-Miron Building housed the Bibliothèque centrale de Montréal until 2015, when it was turned into offices for the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Le Grand Costumier is in an annexe to this historic building, behind the Bibliothèque centrale, in the former book repository. Untouched since its construction, it remained vacant during the building’s change in use. Given that it is filled with freestanding shelving, it was nearly impossible to use for any other purpose. But it was a perfect fit for Le Grand Costumier. Since it was relatively easy to replace the shelves in the shelving system with clothes rods, the warehouse was able to go from storing books to costumes.
The costumes are stored on 5 floors and covering 16 000 sq. ft. including a costume workshop, fitting rooms, as well as a craft and fabric-dyeing area. The main entrance is located on Montcalm street and provides the reception and the administrative installations.
History of the Gaston-Miron Building
Designed by Montréal architect Eugène Payette (1874–1959), the Bibliothèque centrale de Montréal was erected between 1914 and 1917 on Sherbrooke Street East, across from La Fontaine Park. The architect’s works also include the Saint-Sulpice library at 1700 Saint-Denis, and Collège André-Grasset at 1001 Crémazie Street East.
Owned by the City of Montréal since its construction, the building housed the collections of the main and children’s libraries for several decades. In the 1990s, the Government of Quebec and the City of Montréal looked into combining the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec and Bibliothèque centrale due to a lack of space. This led to the creation of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in 2006, with the merging of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (BNQ) and Archives nationales du Québec (ANQ). The building would house the Bibliothèque centrale’s collections.
The former library closed its doors on March 25, 2005. After major renovation work, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Conseil du patrimoine de Montréal moved in, in early 2009. The Conseil des arts de Montréal rents rehearsal studios to cultural organizations in the side wings on the ground floor and uses the atrium as an exhibition space.
The FABG architectural firm preserved and reused a large number of the architectural elements (shelving, chandeliers, tables, reading lamps and more) in designing the different spaces. The atrium kept its original architectural features, in particular its glass panel ceiling and light fixtures. This magnificent space was named after great poet Gaston Miron in 2009.