press release

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous Bed-in, held in Suite 1742 of Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, made headlines around the world. Forty years later, from April 2 to June 21, 2009, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts celebrates this legendary event with Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko, organized in collaboration with Yoko Ono. Rekindling the philosophy behind John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s commitment for today’s world, this comprehensive exhibition will provide a picture of the historical and political context in 1969 that formed the backdrop to the Bed-in. To enable the widest possible audience to understand, be moved by and perpetuate this still-topical peace message, admission to the exhibition will be free at all times.

The 140 works on display include drawings, unpublished photographs, videos, films, artworks and interactive materials that convey the famous couple’s message of universal peace. Furthermore, visitors will be able to play “Imagine” on a white piano with a Disklavier sound system, write down their wishes and tie them to Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree, stamp “Imagine Peace” on maps of the world, and read the works of certain Nobel Peace Prize winners in the Peace Library.

In addition, on June 6, Yoko Ono will be awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Venice Biennale. In the words of the Biennale press release, Yoko Ono, wife of John Lennon, is a “pioneer in performance and conceptual art [and] one of the most influential artists of our time. Long before becoming an icon in popular culture and in peace activism, she developed artistic strategies that have left a lasting mark both in her native Japan and in the West.”

A Word from the Director The Museum is offering a spring of peace. Thanks to the participation of Yoko Ono, this exhibition, while commemorating the 1969 Bed-in, which took place in Montreal, will renews their pacifist action in the present, an action made all the more relevant given the current state of the world. In solidarity, an incredible number of businesses, suppliers and partners have decided to support this project by offering their services for free, so as to spread this universal message, which, it goes without saying, extends beyond the walls of this institution. I am very touched to report that this inclusive and collaborative approach is gathering great momentum, transforming this event into a collective Montreal work and a socially engaged action, with all of us rallying around the same philosophy.

The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko
John Lennon and Yoko Ono