Past Exhibitions


This exhibition featuring 26 portraits by artist Trina Slapcoff was at the Atwater Library, top floor mezzanine, from May to September 2023.

Everyone is welcome and admission is free.

Please click here for the artist’s vision for the project and her biography.


From June to December 2022 we celebrated the life and public service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with a public exhibition of pictures and memorabilia. We also displayed winning entries in a Platinum Jubilee Writing Contest we conducted in the spring of 2022.

The exhibition was part of our Platinum Jubilee Project funded by the Government of Canada.

Click here to see photos of the festive opening event on June 2, 2022.

And go here for more information about our Platinum Jubilee Project.

OUR NEW AGE: Designing for an ageing population

WEDNESDAY, February 19 to WEDNESDAY, March 4, 2020 the public enjoyed this exhibition in our main lobby.

Created by Patricia Johnsson, based on her studies and research with the support of the Order of Architects of Quebec, the cardboard and wood model emphasizes imagination, futurism and fun in its presentation of design strategies for an ageing population, a subject typically sobered by its practical and serious concerns.

She was inspired by the artist Bodys Isek Kingelez, “who uses collage and whimsy in his work to build worlds as they are and as they could be.”

Patricia Johnsson was present to greet the public and answer questions on the opening day, WEDNESDAY, February 19, in the morning from 10:00 to 11:30 and again, in the late afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00.

Mechanics’ Days

From November 30 to December 9, 2017, there was an exhibition of work by Concordia University History and Art Education students whose classes were at the Library during the Fall 2017 semester. The History students took a course given by Professor Steven High focusing on our organization’s history and archives. For most of our long history, we were known as the Mechanics’ Institute of Montreal. The exhibition’s title was inspired by our historic name and our calling to serve workers and generate “useful knowledge.”

The opening reception featured the output of participants in two of the Library’s projects, Canada in 150 Seconds: 150-second Videos and Seniors Helping Seniors Develop a Living History Collection.

“In the Mind’s Eye”: Passchendaele and Public Memory

An exhibition of World War I photographs curated by the Canadian Centre for the Great War was on the Library’s mezzanine from October 27 through November 25, 2017 .

The Artistic Mr. Wilson – Photographs from the McCann Collection

“The Artistic Mr. Wilson” exhibition was in our main-floor reading room during the summer of 2017. It opened on June 20 when curator Edward McCann gave a talk for our Lunchtime Series, and continued until August 31.

George Washington Wilson was a pioneering photographer in Scotland, who famously photographed Queen Victoria and is also remembered for his innovations in landscape photography. The exhibition includes important Wilsonian photographs from Edward McCann’s personal collection as well as historic apparatus.

George Washington Wilson

Dear Bessie: A Wartime Love Story

During the spring of 2017 the Library mezzanine had a display from the Canadian Centre for the Great War multi-media exhibition Dear Bessie: A Wartime Love Story. Centre Curator and Executive Director Caitlin Bailey gave a moving talk about Dear Bessie for our Lunchtime Series on May 11.

Trafalgar School for Girls Student Paintings

From May 25, 2017 through the end of June, the Library’s mezzanine featured a series of acrylic paintings by grade 11 students at Trafalgar School for Girls. The students explored colour and value in both abstracted imagery and the flower as subject.

Traf art teacher Lori Litvak hung the paintings using the versatile hanging system generously donated by the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal for the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry exhibition in late 2016.

Click on each painting to enlarge.

16×16 Flowers by Crystal X.
16×16 Flowers by Catherine O.
9×12 Abstract by Rylie D
9×12 Abstract by Inuya S.

Scottish Diaspora Tapestry

From November 22 to December 10, 2016 the Atwater Library exhibited for the public the magnificent Scottish Diaspora Tapestry. The Tapestry consists of over 300 hand-embroidered panels telling the stories of Scots who settled all around the world.


World tour director Jenny Bruce and volunteers were present during the exhibition to provide information. The St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal with Bruce Bolton’s leadership made the arrangements and underwrote the cost of exhibiting the Tapestry in Montreal, and we are grateful to them for choosing our building. See feature stories by CTV Montreal News and Global News Montreal.

Click on the pictures to enlarge
Scottish Tapestry at Atwater Library Scottish Tapestry at Atwater Library

“For my dear Atwater Library” — Leonard Cohen

For the AWE project public consultation on October 1, 2014, curator Edward McCann mounted an exhibition of special works by Quebec writers in English taken from the Atwater Library vault. The earliest book was an 1864 anthology of poetry published in Montreal that includes a poem by Thomas D’Arcy McGee. D’Arcy McGee, the author and politician, was an early lecturer at the Library, then known as the Mechanics’ Institute of Montreal. Another highlight of the display was one of Leonard Cohen’s first volumes of poetry, inscribed “For my dear Atwater Library – Leonard Cohen – Montréal 1964.”

Exhibition on Tourism in Montreal

From late May until the end of September 2014, the Atwater Library reading room featured a fascinating exhibition on Tourism in Montreal. Curated by Edward McCann, retired museum curator, it included pictures, artefacts and rare books portraying different aspects of Montreal tourism from the mid-19th century through the 20th century. There were woodcuts of our organization’s former building at 360 St. James Street, now 360 St-Jacques West in Old Montreal, that was a tourist attraction for several years after it opened in 1854.