Public Art

The government of Québec has a policy of integrating art within public spaces. Since 1961, Québec has allotted one percent of its construction budget for new buildings towards the commissioning of unique works of art designed specifically for new locations. These works are intended to harmonise with the architecture of the building and to compliment the activities undertaken within and around the building on a daily basis. Here are two examples of some of the artworks on McGill’s downtown campus that were commissioned as part of this policy.


Transition muette (1997) is located on the front stairs of the M. H. Wong Engineering Building on the east side of campus. Produced by renowned Montréal sculptor and landscape architect Jacek Jarnuszkiewicz (1952-), the copper, bronze, zinc, and stainless steel sculpture symbolizes openness and discovery. The materials used reflect those under study within the Wong building, and the keys themselves represent the opening of doors to knowledge.

Located outside the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, Le retour (2008) was produced by artist Luc Boyer. Born in Québec in 1955, Boyer aimed to integrate his art into the surrounding architecture and environment. Le retour is a symbolic representation of the interrelationship between matter, nature, and life. According to Boyer, his sculptures are the result of “repetitive, raw, and instinctive work.”