Art has always been a means of reaching out to people’s hearts. It brings individuals closer to their cultures and helps them understand their history. People have used art to express themselves and to convey their stories.
Art interacts with people by breaking down barriers. Everyone can interpret the art as they see fit, which lets them appreciate the artists and the work itself.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada was founded with the same goal: to promote the appreciation of the arts and give people exposure to the city’s art.
1. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), also known as the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, is Canada’s historic art museum which opened its doors in 1860. The museum features worldwide art representing cultural interaction and pieces reflecting Quebec and Canadian history. It is associated with the Canadian Heritage Information Network, the Canadian Museums Association, and the Virtual Museum of Canada.
More than 45,000 works of art—sculptures, paintings, graphics, photos, multimedia installations, and art items to this date are kept at the museum. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions in different fields, from fine arts to archaeology.
Several exhibition hallways, the boutique and bookstore, a private publishing department, a public sculpture garden, the Bourgie Hall, an auditorium and movie theatre, and the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy are all part of the Museum Complex, which is spread across five joined pavilions.
As a forerunner in art therapy, the fine arts museum collaborates with different communities and health, technology, and education sectors to introduce art to all through an immersive and welcoming experience.
2. History of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal) was founded as the Art Association of Montreal, Canada, in 1860 to uplift art among citizens.
The Art Association could not acquire display works or work from collectors since it lacked a permanent place for possessions. As a result, the association was forced to show its exhibitions at several Montreal locations.
This changed in 1877 when Montreal businessman Benaiah Gibb gave the Art Association the majority of his artistic collection and a building northeast of Phillips Square.
The Hopkins and Wily architecture team created the new art gallery in Phillips Square, which had an exhibition space, a smaller chamber or the Reading Room allocated for graphic artworks, a lecture hall, and a budding art school. In 1893, the museum was expanded.
Due to overcrowding, the Art Association shifted from Phillips Square to the Golden Square Mile, which housed most of the city’s wealthy elite. They picked the unused Holton House on Sherbrooke Street West for the new museum’s development.
The museum committee chose the Maxwell brothers, Edward and William Sutherland, skilled in the Beaux-Arts style. The proposal was for a structure that mirrored the period’s sober and royal preferences in France. The project started in the summer of 1910 and ended in the autumn of 1912.
The Art Association of Montreal was proclaimed as Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1949. In 1972, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts transformed into a semi-public organization mostly supported by government money.
3. Creation and Expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts
Before relocating to a brand-new facility on Sherbrooke St. West in 1912, the museum was once housed in a building on Phillips Square.
The new building was constructed according to the architects Edward and William Sutherland Maxwell’s neoclassical design.
A new section designed by Fred Lebensold was inaugurated in 1976.
The museum gained a significant amount of gallery space and needed infrastructure with the 1991 opening of the Jean-Nol Desmarais Pavilion (designed by Moshe Safdie). This allowed the display of more permanent collections and gave its temporary exhibitions the necessary space. The new pavilion also included a restaurant, a snack bar, a bookshop, and a boutique.
In 2011, a fourth pavilion was devoted to Canadian and Québec artwork, and a concert hall with a unique Tiffany-stained glass collection was unveiled. The three remaining pavilions, devoted to ancient civilizations, European and modern art, and decorative arts and design, were then furnished with the museum’s collections.
The historical and contemporary international art collection was displayed in a fifth pavilion in November 2016, which was introduced for the 375th-anniversary festivities of Montreal.
The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, devoted to international art and education, was constructed by the collaboration of Atelier TAG and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architects. It features 750 pieces, including the Hornstein family’s donation of Old Masters’ works and Ben Weider’s Napoleon collection. The pavilion’s international atelier for education and art therapy is another focus.
4. The Five Pavilions
The museum’s exhibits are divided into five interconnecting pavilions:
- Designed by William Sutherland Maxwell and his brother Edward Maxwell in 1912, the Beaux Arts structure is currently known as the Renata and Michal Hornstein Pavilion, exhibiting world cultures.
- The Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, built in 2011, showcases Quebec and Canadian art.
- The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace features works from Old Masters to Contemporary Art.
- Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion display decorative art objects dating from ancient times.
- Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy houses the international art collection.
5. Items in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The museum displays a variety of works of art in its collection. The collection includes Canadian and Inuit art, international art, Old Masters paintings, and modern and contemporary art.
Leonardo da Vinci: Engineer and Architect, The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis, and Pablo Picasso: Meeting in Montréal are some exhibitions worth the world’s attention.
Since the museum hosts exhibitions yearlong, one can enjoy a variety of exhibitions there. The museum also offers public guided tours. Music was an important component of the museum’s programs in 2011 in collaboration with the newly formed Arte Musica Foundation.
Some of the artworks to be found at the museum are:
- Young Girl with a Hat by Auguste Renoir
- Auguste Rodin’s The Sirens
- Woman Tuning a Lute by Gerrit van Honthorst
- Women Pursued by Satyrs by Honoré Daumier
The museum offers artworks in multiple fields such as Quebec and Canadian art, Arts of one world, international contemporary art, graphic arts, early to modern international art, decorative arts and design, and a sculpture garden.
*However, it should be noted that the pieces might not necessarily be on display at the galleries presently.
6. Art Therapy at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offers art therapy intending to improve well-being and has a variety of initiatives to do this. These initiatives include exhibition tours accompanied by an educator, participation in creative workshops, and presentations of their creations to the general audience at the museum.
7. Methods of Transportation from Montreal to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
You can reach the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from Montreal by bus, night bus, taxi, or foot; the trip is around one kilometer.
1. The quickest and least expensive way to go from Montreal to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is via bus, which takes around 8 minutes.
2. The easiest way to go from Montreal to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is to take a cab, which will cost you money but only take around three minutes.
3. The final alternative is to take a 25-minute walk from Montreal to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
8. How much do Tickets Cost You for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts?
The museum’s official website provides the following information on the timetable and admission costs:
- Monday – closed
- Tuesday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Wednesday * – 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Thursday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Friday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Sunday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
* Please be aware that the collections are not accessible between 5 and 9 p.m.
8.2: Single Admission Fees
- Ages 31 and over – $24
- Ages 21 to 30 – $16
- Ages 20 and under – Free
- Members – Free
- Wednesday nights, 21 years and older – $12
- Wednesday nights, 20 and under – Free
* Please keep in mind that the scheduling and entry fee may change in the future, so please double-check the webpage before visiting.
With its incredible collection of current and temporary exhibitions, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has succeeded in creating a love of the arts among the public.
The oldest art museum in Canada has an incredible reputation at the local and global level, making it a must-visit museum and all museums worldwide. Visitors from all around the world visit to see the museum’s collection in its five interconnected pavilion buildings.
The visitors can also enjoy the Bourgie concert hall, an auditorium and movie theatre, the boutique and bookstore, and a public sculpture garden in the museum.