Up Stairs, Down Stairs

Photo by wmliu.

Photo by wmliu.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, otherwise known as the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, is a lovely museum. It houses an impressive collection of over 35,000 objects (including a rather wonderful replica of the Duomo in Florence) and is the site of one of the largest art thefts in Canada (it has gone unsolved for almost 40 years). But, it is not the artwork (although Tissot’s October was particularly eye-catching) nor any of the museum’s buildings (which include a Maxwell brothers-designed Beaux-Arts structure and it’s distinctly more modern neighbor across the street) that made the largest impression on me this past weekend. Rather, it was the stairs of the Desmarais Pavilion that left me mesmerized and a little bit dizzy.


These stairs have very little incline between them, and their spacing forces you to solve a real life logic puzzle. Essentially, what is the most efficient method of ascending this staircase? Stepping on each step would feel like a lifetime, not to mention throw off your gait. I eventually settled for the two steps at a time approach on the way up, which was a feat given my short legs. The descent, however, required a change in strategy: one stair, two stairs, one stair, two stairs, etc. I have never been so engrossed by a set of stairs with the exception of the ones at the Science Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota, where your feet tap out a little melody of sounds as you climb up and down.

Have you ever been to a museum where an architectural feature really impacted your visit (in a positive or negative way)?   

One Response to “Up Stairs, Down Stairs”

  1. Jim on November 25th, 2010

    Gread image. I couldn’t agree more and keep up the good work.

    Jim from Quick Cash Payday

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