The first fifteen years: 1989–2004

Since opening to the public, the CCA has presented over 200 exhibitions, produced nearly 100 publications, held international events, and has received numerous awards and recognitions. In 1992 the CCA was recognized for its contribution to architectural heritage and designated as an accredited museum by the Ministère des affaires culturelles du Québec. Soon after it embarked on the ambitious research project The American Century, which sought to cast a fresh eye on critical aspects of America’s architectural culture, resulting in exhibitions, publications, photographic commissions and programs from 1995 through 1998.

The CCA’s first decade was marked in 1999 by the exhibition En Chantier, celebrating the ongoing “construction” of the collection with over 350 prints, drawings, photographs, rare books, manuscripts, toys, and models spanning five centuries of architectural history.

The CCA inaugurated its Study Centre in 1997 to support advanced research in architecture through grants, seminars, and access to the collection and library. A residency for senior fellows was initiated in 2001 with the support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The CCA has since hosted 30 Mellon Senior Fellows, over 150 visiting scholars as well as more than 1500 researchers and academics through its Visiting Scholar and Support Grants programs.

Kurt W. Forster joined the CCA as Director in 1999, followed by Nicholas Olsberg in 2001, Mirko Zardini in 2005, and Giovanna Borasi in 2020.

Recent years: 2005–today

The transformation of exhibitions into means for the exploration of themes and emerging problems is one of the CCA’s many responses to the worlds’ current circumstances. Since 2005, the CCA’s collection, research, exhibitions and programs have been shaped to refocus the discussion on how we perceive and understand the surroundings in which we live, championing the need for a profound rethinking of architecture and contemporary urban planning. While shifting its attention from exhibitions “of architecture” to exhibitions “for/about/on architecture”, the CCA is establishing a broader understanding and definition of the field and the role of the architect. Recent research, exhibitions and programs encompass such themes as war, migration, health, energy supplies, and bottom-up planning.

The CCA Collection continues to be enriched by new acquisitions and donations, including the Ábalos&Herreros archive, the Pierre Jeanneret archive, the archive of Foreign Office Architects and a large part of Álvaro Siza’s office archive, along with the collection of project archives related to the Archaeology of the Digital program.

In order to engage its global audience, the CCA recognizes the need for two buildings: the physical one anchored to its specific place in Montreal, and the digital one to be accessed online from any place at any time. The CCA is continually increasing online access and strengthening long-distance research tools and collaborative digital projects, including this content-driven website publication. The CCA’s digital book publishing initiative was launched with an electronic version of the exhibition catalogue for Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture and expanded with a digital-only epub series featuring individual projects from the Archeology of the Digital exhibitions.


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