By Dorota Kozinska

Her loss is particularly felt by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, of which Michal and Renata Hornstein were immense supporters.

In 2012, in a gesture that reverberated across the art milieu, they donated their collection of Old Masters to the museum; some 70 works of art worth over $75 million.

It is seen as the most important and valuable private collection ever donated to a Quebec museum.

This endowment crowned a lifetime of philanthropy by two people whose story is a truly remarkable one, played out against the backdrop of WWII

Born in Poland, they both escaped the Nazi occupation, and like so many others, fled from country to country before finding refuge..


They met in Bratislava, now Slovakia, and got married in Rome after the war. It was there that Renata's interest in art was triggered, a passion she shared with her husband throughout their marriage.

They collected masterpieces, and after settling in Montreal in 1951, assisted the MMFA in acquiring new ones.

All the while also financing healthcare and educational endeavours. Driven by a need to show gratitude for having survived against terrible odds, the Hornsteins left behind a formidable legacy.

In an ironic twist of fate, they will not be present at the grand opening in this November of the museum's new Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace...

Michal & Renata Hornstein

Michal & Renata Hornstein in front of Musée des Beaux arts, Montréal, 2004
Photo: Pierre Guzzo

Pavillon pour la paix