In addition to music, visual arts have always been a central preoccupation of the Orford Arts Centre’s founder. Back in 1951, Gilles Lefebvre collaborated with Madeleine Arbour, signatory of Le Refus Global manifesto published in 1949, and presented the first ever exhibition uniting Marcel Barbeau, Jean-Paul Riopelle, brothers Pierre and Claude Gauvreau, Paul-Émile Borduas and many other members of the group.
Over the years the Orford Arts Centre’s permanent collection has become enriched by the unique works of great contemporary artists (among them Yves Trudeau, Mia and Klaus, Jean-Paul Mousseau) and features 21 monumental in situ sculptures that are spread out along the grounds. The current collection of the Orford Arts Centre includes more than 140 works of art.
The site of the Orford Arts Centre equally possesses great historical and architectural value. Today it is one of the few places in Quebec where you can find a significant concentration of buildings designed in the modern expressionist style. The Gilles-Lefebvre Concert Hall (1960), L’Homme et la Musique Pavilion (1967) and the J.A. DeSève Pavilion (1968) are all part of a formal renewal in Quebec architecture that coincided with the entry of Quebec society into modernity. The dynamic shapes of its pavilions and the originality of the methods used by architect Paul-Marie Côté (1921-1969) make these buildings historical masterpieces of modern Quebecois design.
During the summer and fall, the Orford Arts Centre also presents exhibitions of varying duration that are completely free for visitors. In 2008, the Université de Sherbrooke, by way of its curator Suzanne Pressé, loaned a superb collection of theatrical photos taken by photographer André Le Coz. More than 4,500 visitors had the chance to experience this exhibition from June 20 to October 11, 2008.