Attracting around half a million visitors every year, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was originally the Art Association of Montreal when it was founded in 1860 by a group of a wealthy art-loving Montreal residents. But the first institution of its kind in the country wasn't so much an institution as it was a traveling art exhibit without a home.
It wouldn't be until 1879 that the association set root in its first location -- Montreal's then business district and today's Museum Quarter -- in the first building in Canada designed specifically to house art. And it wasn't until 1912 that the Art Association of Montreal moved to today's location on Sherbrooke Street. By 1948, Canada's preeminent art institution officially changed its name to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Free Permanent Collection
Making the museum affordable and accessible to everyone is evident in the MMFA's ongoing free permanent collection policy, featuring an impressive 36,000 objects which include:
- European art (works include Picasso, Dali and Matisse)
- Canadian art (from Antoine Plamondon to Pierre Gauvreau)
- decorative arts (from the Renaissance to today, includes industrial design)
- contemporary arts (includes Riopelle and Joan Miro)
- ancient cultures (Tang Dynasty earth ware, Coptic textiles and more)
- Mediterranean archeology (extensive collection of Roman, Greek, and Ancient Egyptian objects)
Housing several every year, past temporary exhibits include Once Upon a Time Walt Disney: The Sources of Inspiration for the Disney Studios, Hitchcock and Art, and Picasso Érotique.
Free Family Sundays
One Sunday a month, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the MMFA organizes activities so fun, your kids will never know it's "educational." The activities -- arts and crafts with an art history twist -- are at no charge to anyone, not even for the materials. The museum takes care of everything. Just call (514) 285-1600 extension 440 and find out when the next activity is scheduled. Most of all, reserve a spot for the whole family before they run out of room! Past activities include mask-making and live model drawing (models are clothed). The MMFA also offers fine arts summer camp and birthday workshop activities.
Founded in 1882, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Library is Canada's oldest arts library is not open to the public but is accessible as a reference to researchers. The collection includes over 84,500 monographs, 63,200 auction catalogs, 18,000 files on Canadian artists, 930 serial publications and more than 200 videos, CD-ROMs and DVDs. Requests for access must be sent by mail, email or by fax at (514) 285-5655. Allow four weeks for confirmation.
MMFA Bistro and Petit Café
If you just want a light snack and coffee, then head to the MMFA's Petit Café, open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. If you're looking for a full meal, the MMFA's Bistro serves lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. everyday (except Monday) and dinner on Wednesdays only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call (514) 843-3233 for MMFA Bistro reservations.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday
11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sunday
Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion: 1380 Sherbrooke Street West (corner Crescent)
Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion: 1379 Sherbrooke Street West (corner Crescent)
Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion: 1339 Sherbrooke Street West (between Crescent and de la Montagne)
Mailing address: P.O. Box 3000, Station "H," Montreal, Quebec H3G 2T9 Call (514) 285-2000 or (514) 285-1600 for more information.
$20 ages 31 and over; $12 ages 13 to 30, free for kids 12 and under; $10 ages 13 and up every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Note: Ticket counter closes 30 minutes before museum closing time.
*Note that admission applies to temporary exhibits. Access to museum's extensive permanent collection is free of charge at all times.