The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux Arts) is scattered across four different buildings, or pavilions. The Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion seen here is the institution's main building, with its international art collection. The other buildings focus on archeology, Canadian art, and decorative arts. The current director of the museum, Nathalie Bondil, has been recognized for her innovative curatorial approach and exhibitions that cover the world. (A recent interview with AFAR can be found here: http://www.afar.com/magazine/resident-nathalie-bondil-and-montreals-museum-mile.) If you are visiting Montreal in the winter when days are short, take advantage of their evening hours on Wednesdays. Use the daylight you have to explore the city, and then head inside for some art before dinner. Major exhibitions remain open till 9 pm on Wednesdays (the rest of the week, the museum is open till 5 pm—Mondays closed).
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Get Your Art On at the Museum of Fine Arts
One of Canada's most popular museums, the MBAM (as the locals call it) was founded in 1867 and has welcomed its fair share of rotating exhibits, from Yves Saint-Laurent to Chihuly, and from Tiffany glass to Matisse, with many other exciting ones to come.
Even more interesting for visitors is the permanent collection, an ode to Canadian art, from Amerindian artifacts to ultra-modern paintings—including the main players of the Quebec-based modernist movement: Alfred Pellan, Paul-Émile Borduas, and Jean-Paul Riopelle.
Whether you visit for the popular exhibition or for the permanent collection, the MBAM is a must-do in Montreal.
Insider tip: Wednesday nights are 50% off when major exhibitions are on.
The city’s main art institution is on historic Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, in what is known as the Golden Square Mile. Spread over three buildings, with a fourth on the way, the MMFA displays its wide-ranging collection of pan-historic, international arts and crafts thematically. It also has an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, exhibited in the Moshe Safdie-designed Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion in a way that astutely illustrates the development of abstraction in Canada. The museum is also known for creating and hosting travelling blockbuster exhibitions, such as the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition that has toured the globe. Its pop sensibilities and accessible philosophy also extend to its educational programming – it puts on great day-programs for kids.
Photo: Susan Moss
The collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal) is so large, it doesn't fit in one building and is instead located in four different "pavilions." The Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion is the institution's main building, with its international art collection. The other buildings focus on archaeology, Canadian art and decorative arts. The current director of the museum, Nathalie Bondil, has been recognized for her innovative curatorial approach and exhibitions that cover the world. If you are in Montréal on a Wednesday, take advantage of their evening hours, with major exhibitions open till 9 p.m.
Montreal is a fabulous walking city, but when you are ready to go inside for a few hours the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the perfect stop. The museum's collection is free admission at all times, so your visit is both easy on the eyes and the budget. My new favorite Canadian artist is Dorian FitzGerald. Who's yours?