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Agatha Christie on Tap at Point-à-Callière Museum

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--November 18, 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.

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.