Investigating Agatha Christie
For immediate release
Montréal, September 15, 2015 – Pointe-à-Callière is mounting Investigating Agatha Christie, an original exhibition focusing on an exceptional woman whose unusual life and compelling novels left their mark on international literature. The exhibition, to run from December 8, 2015 to April 17, 2016, will look at Agatha Christie through her work, her imagination and her world, including archaeology.
It is one of the major international events planned to mark the 125th anniversary of the famous novelist’s birth, on September 15, 1890.
A world exclusive produced by Pointe-à-Callière, it will feature items from such internationally renowned institutions as the British Museum, in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto. It will also include some of Christie’s own unique and priceless personal effects, still in her family’s possession, since the Museum is working closely with The Christie Archive Trust and the National Trust (Greenway House). Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, who is a Trustee of the Agatha Christie Archive Trust, along with her husband’s nephew John Mallowan, will be on hand for the exhibition opening, in December.
Queen of Crime
Agatha Christie’s work includes 66 mystery novels, 6 novels, 150 short stories, 18 plays and 2 memoirs. She is the world’s most-translated author, far surpassing Jules Verne: her writing has been translated into 44 languages and sold 2.5 billion copies – only the Bible and Shakespeare are more popular. Dubbed the Queen of Crime, she created such unforgettable characters as detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, and her colossal body of work has inspired numerous films and television series.
An exceptional woman for her time
The Museum’s goal with this exhibition is to introduce visitors to a new side of Agatha Christie: an imaginative woman with many interests, an avid traveller and explorer, very open to other cultures. The exhibition will be chronological, from Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller’s birth in Torquay, Devon, on September 15, 1890, to her death at her home in Wallingford, near Oxford, in January 1976. Christie herself will accompany visitors along the tour route, featuring some of her personal effects and memories very often recounted in her own voice. They will also be invited inside her different homes, including Ashfield, Winterbrook and Greenway House, and aboard the Orient-Express, the famous train that she herself rode and used as the setting for one of her most famous mysteries. The exhibition will end with a highly significant, moving and priceless artifact: the Remington 1937 typewriter that Christie used.
A passion for archaeology
Few people are aware that the life and work of this imaginative and adventurous woman were intimately bound up with archaeology, which played an important part in her personal and professional life. She was married to an archaeologist, Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan, who made an important contribution to the prehistoric chronology of Mesopotamia. Between 1930 and 1960, Christie witnessed some major finds at ancient Mesopotamian sites in Syria and Iraq. Various artifacts unearthed at Mesopotamian digs led by her husband and other archaeologists or from places she visited in Egypt and the Middle East will be part of the exhibition. Many other archaeological treasures will also be displayed, from vases to bas-reliefs, figurines, jewellery, bronze plaques, cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals and objects made of ivory, along with manuscripts, photos and films taken by the author while she was on these dig sites.
Archaeologist vs. detective
Christie drew heavily on archaeology and history as inspiration for many of her famous novels, including Murder in Mesopotamia, They Came to Baghdad, Appointment with Death and Death Comes as the End. She also described daily life on dig sites in a fascinating little book entitled Come, Tell Me How You Live. She wrote that an archaeologist and a detective have much in common: both must come to understand an event (recent or in the distant past) using their observation skills and clues that are brought to light, piecing them together and relying on a bit of luck, too! Investigating Agatha Christie will be a journey to a time when many of the treasures of mankind’s heritage were discovered and an encounter with a passionate woman, a brilliant individual who invented a new literary genre: the historical detective novel.
All kinds of activities to complement the exhibition
The Museum and a number of partners will also be rounding out the exhibition with a wide variety of activities from November 2015 to April 2016.
Activities for visitors of all ages
To complement the exhibition, the Museum will be producing a publication with numerous rare photographs and images of items from the exhibition, available in both English and French. Professional guides will offer exhibition tours for visitors and school groups. Families with children under the age of 10 are sure to enjoy exploring the exhibition with the help of a special quiz. During March Break in 2016, the Museum will be inviting kids to become archaeologist-detectives, with a chance to conduct archaeological digs and play some sleuth games. For Nuit Blanche, on February 27, the Museum will be hosting an evening with Agatha.
Mathew Prichard, Christie’s grandson, and Henrietta McCall, Guest Curator and British Museum representative, will be giving an exclusive talk for Museum Members at the exhibition opening in December.
For the general public, Pointe-à-Callière will be hosting various lectures hosted by Michel Fortin, a professor of Near Eastern archaeology at Université Laval, Jacques Perreault, an archaeology professor with the Centre d’études classiques at the Université de Montréal, and Clemens Reichel, Associate Curator, World Cultures and Ancient Cultures Department, with the Royal Ontario Museum. In winter 2016, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec will be hosting a session at the Grande Bibliothèque in collaboration with Johanne Seymour, from Les printemps meurtriers de Knowlton, a detective fiction festival. A writer and an expert will be on hand to discuss the scientific knowledge (medicine, archaeology, ballistics, etc.) needed by mystery writers, and there will be readings from different detective novels. The Université de Montréal will be presenting two lectures as part of its Belles soirées lecture series, one of them by Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Professor of Assyriology, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto.
The literary world joins in
The local publishing and writers’ community will also be involved, for the Museum plans to present a ten-part mini-exhibition on Agatha Christie at the Salon du livre de Montréal, from November 18 to 23. The Salon will also be organizing roundtables and talks by different authors on Christie and the importance of her work.
The 45 libraries in the City of Montréal network will be showcasing Christie’s books, along with ones on archaeology. In addition, the Museum will host a special evening in March exclusively for holders of City of Montréal library cards. And it is pleased to offer a 15% discount to members of the Union des écrivains interested in visiting the exhibition. The Association des libraires du Québec will be suggesting various activities for its 120 member bookstores to promote Christie’s books.
An Agatha Christie-themed event will be organized by the Pointe-à-Callière Foundation’s group of young philanthropists known as GénérationsCité next winter. And in December, the Foundation will offer its Members an exclusive preview day, with special talks – a great reason to become a Museum Member before the end of December.
Promotions celebrating Agatha Christie
An all-inclusive trip to England, where Christie was born, and to Scotland and Ireland will be the prize in a contest held in collaboration with travel agency Voyage Traditours and Ici Radio-Canada Télé.
Montréal metro users will be able to enjoy a Completely Agatha! day on January 12, the 40th anniversary of the famous writer’s death, in collaboration with the STM, one of the exhibition partners.
Various other contests are planned with partners including Montréal’s Virgin radio station and the Montréal libraries network, with books and free passes to be won. The Birks Café will be offering an Afternoon Tea, with a 20% discount for anyone holding a ticket for the exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière, and Café customers will receive the same discount at the Museum on presentation of an Afternoon Tea ticket.
The Museum Shop will have a wide selection of books on Agatha Christie, along with copies of many of her novels in both English and French. Shop customers will also find a box of tea designed especially for the exhibition, the fruit of our partnership with Trans-herbe, the creators of Four O'clock teas. The L'Arrivage restaurant will be offering an English-themed menu throughout the exhibition run, as well.
Social media: #AgathaMTL
The Museum plans to place short videos featuring interviews with Agatha Christie’s grandson and images of the objects arriving in Montréal on social media. There will be a quiz to learn about the writer and contests in partnership with Les Éditions du Masque, which has historically published Christie’s books in French, and Hachette, the French-language distributor. HarperCollins, the English-language publisher, will also be providing English copies for contest purposes. Our visitors are invited to start using the hashtag #AgathaMTL straight away.
Exceptional partners for this major exhibition
Investigating Agatha Christie is an exhibition produced by Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. It is being co-presented by La Capitale Financial Group and Four O'clock teas, and received invaluable assistance from The Christie Archive Trust and the British Museum, along with support from the Department of Canadian Heritage under the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program. The Museum wishes to thank its sponsors: Air Canada Cargo, STM, InterContinental Montréal, Voyages Traditours, Tourisme Montréal, SDV and La Presse.
Pointe-à-Callière is subsidized by the City of Montréal.
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