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Art Lover's Paradise: The Art Museums and Galleries in Montreal

Art Museums and Galleries in Montreal
Art is a big part of Montréal's unique culture, and several world-class art museums and galleries are located there. Thus, there are countless options for people wanting to discover art in the city.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2017
Did you know?
Visitors, wanting to visit the different museums in Montréal, can acquire a Montréal Museums Pass, which allows free access to 30 museums in the city for three consecutive days, along with public transit.
Montréal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Located in Québec, Canada, it is renowned for its unique culture and as a metropolitan hub. Montréal is often compared to European cities, and its cultural attractions are one of the reasons for this comparison. World-class museums displaying the history and culture of the city through the ages are an important facet of Montréal, and of a particular interest, especially for the foreign tourists. Of these, the various art museums should not be missed. Alongside museums, the city of Montréal also boasts of several art galleries that display various commercial art exhibits by the city's contemporary artists, throughout the year. We have compiled a list of some of the important art museums and galleries in Montréal, so that you can experience the history and culture of the city, while you tour Québec.
Art Museums in Montréal
Art is an important part of Montréal's unique culture, owing to which, they have a number of museums dedicated either fully or partly, to the art of the city and of Québec, and its evolution through time. Following are some of the major art museums in Montréal.
Montréal Museum of Fine Arts
► The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most popular museums, not just in Montréal, but in all of Canada. With the unique architecture of the museum building, and a history that dates back to its founding in 1860, it is the oldest art museum in Canada, definitely worth a visit.

► Like many new-world art museums, this museum houses an impressive collection of indigenous arts and artifacts, along with Western art.
► Art from Québec in particular and Canada in general, form an important part of the museum's permanent collection, and the works on display are frequently rotated so that return visits can be encouraged.
► The museum has been divided into three pavilions viz., the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion that houses various artistic objects related to Québec's history; the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion that displays the works of art from around the world; and the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, a commercial space where people can host their private events.
► In 1972, the museum was victim of the largest art robbery in Canada's history, then. The robbery was worth $2 million. Unfortunately, the stolen works were never found.
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal
► No list of art museums in Montréal would be complete without mentioning the Musée d'art contemporain - the city's contemporary art museum, founded in 1964.

► Located in a building marked by imposing spires and a combination of white stone and black glass, this museum is difficult to ignore.

► Canada's first ever museum devoted to contemporary art, it houses art objects from 1940 onwards.
► The facility also serves as a gallery for contemporary artists working in multiple media.

► The museum has a total of eight galleries. Four of them are reserved for exhibitions from the museum's permanent collection, while four others host temporary exhibitions by contemporary artists.
► The museum's permanent collection includes works of contemporary art not only from Québec and Canada, but also from the rest of the world.

► Interestingly, the museum is the only cultural complex in Canada that is dedicated to both visual and performing contemporary art forms.
McCord Museum
► Founded in 1921, the McCord Museum is dedicated to not only the preservation and appreciation of Canadian history, but also to educating people about the same.

► Officially named as the McCord Museum of Canadian History, it was managed by the McGill University for about 60 years, after which it went on to become a privately owned institution.
► The original collection of the museum was based on the art objects which the McCord family possessed, substantial additions to which were made over the years. Today, the museum houses over 7,000 pieces of contemporary art in its permanent collection.

► Currently, the institute is supported jointly by the governments of Montréal, Québec, and Canada, and also by a large number of sponsors, donors, and members.
Musée de Lachine
► Located in the borough of Lachine in Montréal, this museum was founded in 1948, along the St. Lawrence River.

► One of the important archaeological sites in Montréal, the museum complex itself is a National Historic Site of Canada and thus, is a protected monument.
► The most remarkable collections of the museum are the beautiful sculptures, made by some renowned local artists.

► The museum houses several free exhibits alongside many activities in which the visitors can participate free of cost.
Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec
► Situated in the 19th century neo-gothic church in the borough of Saint-Laurent in Montréal, this Museum of masters and artisans in Quebec was founded in 1979 as the Art Museum of St. Lawrence.
► The original collection of the museum included randomly selected art objects from around the world, which belonged to the personal collection of Father Joseph-Célestin Carrier since the early 19th century. Unfortunately, only about 500 objects from the original collection have survived till date.

► In 2002, the permanent collection of the museum was rebuilt owing to which a new exhibition named Mains de maîtres was inaugurated in 2003.

► Today, the museum also focuses on conservation and education alongside the exhibition of artisans' works.
Museum of the Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal
Museum of the Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal
► Located on Westmount Summit in Montréal is a Roman Catholic basilica, and Canada's largest church.

► There is a museum in the church dedicated mainly to Christian art, with a large display of nativity scenes from around the world.

► Visitors can take a tour of the religious and artistic heritage of Québec through various periods in history.

► The reliquary displayed in the church museum which forms a part of its permanent collection, is of particular interest for the visitors.
Apart from these major ones, there are many other museums in Montréal, pertaining to numerous other aspects of the city's history. The Canadian Centre for Architecture, a museum of architecture and a research center is interesting, in that, though it does not qualify as a full-fledged art museum, its sculpture garden, displaying sculptures that deconstruct architecture, is very popular. Similarly, although the Stewart Museum primarily pertains to military history, its collection of art objects from the 16th century through the 19th century is interesting.
Art Galleries in Montréal
Montréal also has a plethora of art galleries, wherein some or the other interesting exhibits are on display throughout the year. Visitors can not only go and see these exhibitions, but also meet and interact with the artists, and purchase their works.
► DHC/ART is a Canadian foundation, aiming to promote the works of contemporary art in the city of Montréal.

► The foundation owns a free exhibition gallery in the city, which displays the works of various artists of international repute.

► The foundation also aims to educate the visitors and spread awareness among them, with regards to the recent trends in contemporary art.
Galerie d'art Borduas
► The Borduas Art Gallery in Montréal is a gallery, specially dedicated to the display of fine arts exhibitions.

► The gallery has featured several renowned artists from Québec till date, including Jean-Paul Riopelle, Darrell Duchene, and Nicole Ouellet.

► The gallery's displays generally specialize in the arts of etching, watercolor, and lithography.
Stewart Hall Art Gallery
► The Stewart Hall Art Gallery is housed in a beautiful mansion, located near Lake St. Louis, adjoining the island of Montréal.

► It is one of the most popular art galleries in Montréal, which holds art exhibitions on varied themes all through the year.

► There is a boutique, just adjoining the gallery, where one can purchase beautiful handmade objects made by different Canadian artists.
Galerie de Bellefeuille
► Founded in 1980, this art gallery has a history of promoting some of the top contemporary artists of Canada, and the world.

► Located in an area that spans 10,000 square feet, the gallery hosts numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the year.

► Interestingly, the gallery can simultaneously mount two individual exhibitions at the same time.
Beaux-Arts des Amériques
► This art gallery is particularly famous for giving the much-needed exposure to the emerging artists from Québec in particular, and Canada in general.

► The gallery is also known to promote a large number of works by the artists from the United States and the Caribbean.

► Representative of the particular times, places, and cultures, many works, once exhibited in this gallery, are now in significant private and public collections.
University Galleries
► Montréal's several well-known universities, including Concordia, provide more venues for Montréal visitors interested in art.

► Concordia University's Gallery X is particularly interesting, because its curators keep changing each year.
► The gallery focuses on contemporary works by regional artists, so it's a good place to get a feel for what's going on in the local art scene.

► The Université de Montréal is also home to a contemporary art gallery called Centre d'exposition.
Several other small art galleries, many of them dedicated to contemporary art, can be found throughout Montréal. Tourist guides and websites have a wealth of information about these. The Old Montréal section of the city, along the Rue Saint-Paul, is generally considered to be the city's main gallery district. Strolling through the gallery district has the added advantage of taking visitors by many top-notch shops and restaurants, lending a little more diversity to an afternoon of art viewing.
For those who prefer anything from individual art galleries to museums with permanent collections, Montréal has a lot to offer. Touring Montréal without visiting at least one or two art museums and galleries would be like missing an important part of the city's culture. Montréal is known for valuing and fostering the arts, so even people who aren't interested much in art, should give these places a try.