The Library at Night

Wednesday Oct 12 2016

The Library at Night is a fantastic virtual-reality voyage to the depths of ten of the world's most fabulous and amazing libraries, all in a world created by Robert Lepage from Alberto Manguel's book of the same title.

The Library at Night

October 13, 2016, to April 2, 2017, at Musée de la civilisation
An unforgettable immersive experience

Québec City, October 12, 2016 – The Library at Night is a fantastic virtual-reality voyage to the depths of ten of the world's most fabulous and amazing libraries, all in a world created by Robert Lepage from Alberto Manguel's book of the same title.

For its Québec City run at Musée de la civilisation from October 13, 2016, to April 2, 2017, the exhibition will be further enriched with treasures from the Museum's precious collection of rare and old books from the Séminaire de Québec library.

Visitors can explore ten real and imaginary libraries:

  • The library of Admont Abbey (Admont, Austria)
  • The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt)
  • The Library of Congress (Washington DC, U.S.A.)
  • Megabiblioteca Vasconcelos (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • The National and University Library of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)
  • The library of the Nautilus (after Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea)
  • The Library of Parliament(Ottawa, Canada)
  • Sainte-Geneviève Library (Paris, France)
  • Copenhagen University Library (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • The library of Hase-dera Temple (Kamakura, Japan)

An immersive experience

"If the library in the morning suggests an echo of the severe and reasonable wishful order of the world, the library at night seems to rejoice in the world's essential, joyful muddle."

Alberto Manguel

The experience begins in a reconstruction of Alberto Manuel's own library. Visitors then enter a forest, the focal point of the staging and which contrasts with the expected order and rigour of scholarly space.

Visitors wear 360-video immersion headsets, with which they select a library to explore just by moving their eyes.

 An 11th library: Knowledge and Memory, The Séminaire de Québec Library

An 11th library, entirely real, has been set up in an adjoining space, featuring a selection of rare and old books from the library of Séminaire de Québec, along with objects from the Museum collections.

The rare and old books address eight themes...

  • The Sacred and Profane
  • The Reading Experience
  • Form and Content
  • The Imaginary
  • Light and Darkness
  • Oblivion and Censorship
  • All the World's Knowledge
  • The Book of Every Reading expressed in treasures from the Séminaire de Québec Library:

  • Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie(1751–1765)
  • An original edition of The Birds of America by John James Audubon (1827–1838)
  • An incunable (book printed in the 15th century), Jean d'Espinay's Book of Hours, use of Paris
  • A rare edition of Don Quixote in Spanish (1662)
  • Lavoisier's treatise on chemistry (1796)
  • The oldest book on chemistry in the Séminaire de Québec library (1621)
  • A Mohawk (Iroquois) dictionary (circa 1660)
  • The Index, the list of books prohibited by the Catholic Church (1782)

A prologue pays tribute to the tenth anniversary of Montréal's Grande Bibliothèque with a deluxe edition of Emile Nelligan's Poésies complètes 1896-1899 from BAnQ's heritage collection. In a nearby lounge area, visitors can contemplate Random House (2004), a book sculpture by Guy Larramée.


"The Museum is of course presentation space, but it's also a place for experimentation. The Library at Night goes unabashedly its own way. It explores new approaches to the treatment of form and content. The result is quite startling. The Museum also saw the exhibition as a wonderful opportunity to organically incorporate real-life treasures from the Québec Seminary Library – North America's oldest. With its blend of theatrical museum staging, new technology, virtual reality, and real objects, The Library at Night attains the status of truly universal exhibition!"

Stéphan La Roche, executive director of Musées de la civilisation

"The Library at Night for us was a strange adventure into hitherto unsuspected places and times. Voyaging in the world of libraries inevitably brought us back to writing itself. The new technology we used for the exhibit opened the door to truly extraordinary things that had us writing in a new way. It's an astonishing language filled with promises, especially if you pair it up with the idea of "night," with all its mystery, restlessness, dreams, and imaginings. That's another thing this is — doing justice to the idea of dislocation, of expatriation."

Robert Lepage, multidisciplinary artist and co-designer

"The encounter between the genius of Robert Lepage and that of Alberto Manguel was bound to yield something extraordinary. Let me also congratulate the Musée de la civilisation team for its unique contribution to the exhibition using rare books from the Séminaire de Québec library. I'm delighted to hear that The Library at Night will next be heading beyond our borders, to the Bibliothèque nationale de France, where it will further enhance Québec's artistic reputation."

Luc Fortin, minister of Culture and Communications and minister responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language

How it works

The experience of The Library at Night relies on particular technology that limits the audience to 40 each hour. All visitors will have enough time to finish the experience. Age 14 and up.

Tickets are available daily at the Musée de la civilisation reception desk. Time slots are on the half hour. No advance reservations.

A well-earned award

The Library at Night received the Télé-Québec Audiovisual and Multimedia Award at the Société des musées du Québec Awards on Thursday, October 6 at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.


Designed and produced by Ex Machina for the 10th anniversary of the Grande Bibliothèque, based on an original idea by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

A presentation of La Capitale Insurance and Financial Services in collaboration with Secrétariat à la Capitale-Nationale, official hotel Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, and media sponsor Le Soleil.



Ex Machina:

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec:

Ministère de la Culture et des Communications:


Media relations:

Québec City: Serge Poulin, 418-528-2072, email:

Montréal: Rosemonde Gingras, 514-458-8355, email:


– Musée de la civilisation –

85, rue Dalhousie
Quebec City (Québec) G1K 8R2
T. 418 643-2158
Toll-free 1 866 710-8031

– Musée de l'Amérique –

2, côte de la Fabrique
Quebec City (Québec) G1R 3V6
T. 418 643-2158
Toll-free 1 866 710-8031