Houdini's rare posters part of McCord Museum's new collection

The McCord Museum in Montreal has just acquired one of the world’s greatest collections of posters from the world of magic, including rare books, documents and objects linked to the famous magician Harry Houdini.

Museum plans exhibit for 2017 with hopes to send it on tour around world

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      The McCord Museum in Montreal has just acquired one of the world’s greatest collections of posters from the world of magic.

      It includes rare books, documents and objects linked to the famous magician Harry Houdini.

      The collection of impeccably preserved posters shows the advertising of the day. It was donated by the Emmanuelle Gattuso Foundation. 

      Gattuso is a former Montrealer. She purchased the collection as a gift to her husband, Standard Broadcasting magnate, Allan Slaight, a life-long magic enthusiast.

      The McCord plans to organize an exhibition based on the collection for 2017 and hopes to send it on tour around the world.

      Special connection to Montreal

      Houdini had a direct connection to the McCord. A week before his death, he spoke to McGill students at their ballroom, which is now part of the McCord Museum.

      Three McGill students arranged to meet Houdini backstage at the Princess Theatre (formerly the Parisian Cinema on Ste-Catherine Street) later that day. Houdini was to perform there that evening.

      Two of the students were sketching his portrait. The third asked if it was true that Houdini would take a punch to the stomach. And before the magician could brace himself, the student threw the punch. It punctured Houdini’s appendix and he died a week later in Detroit.

      One of the world's most important collection of posters from the world of magic is given to the McCord Museum by former Montrealer Emmanuelle Gattuso in honour of husband Allan Slaight. 7:48

      About the Author

      Jeanette Kelly

      Jeanette Kelly works as the arts reporter at CBC Montreal. She's also the host of Cinq à Six, Quebec's Saturday afternoon culture show on CBC Radio One.

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