The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the city’s largest museum, a grand arts complex that attracts over a million visitors each year. It was started in 1860, when a group of wealthy art-lovers from Montreal got together to fund a traveling exhibit of art. Stop by this Sherbrooke Street icon to peruse the MMFA’s great international exhibits as well as its local collection, which provides a fascinating insight into a unique Canadian cultural tradition.
The original site of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was the first building in Canada specifically designed for holding art. A long series of expansions has seen the museum become one of North America’s largest art institutions. Now the museum sprawls over five separate pavilions, with more than 40,000 different objects in its collections.
Explore the different halls in any order. The MMFA’s Western Art collection has works by figures such as Brueghel the Younger, Rembrandt and Matisse arranged chronologically. Discover key developments in Western art and culture.
Visit the international contemporary galleries for insight into the artistic trends of today, from multimedia projects to abstract painting and a range of innovative sculptural practices. Move through the Bourgie Pavilion to explore the history of Quebec and Canada. See thousands of pieces of art along with a collection of Inuit works and Amerindian artifacts.
In 1972, the museum was the victim of Canada’s largest ever art heist. Thieves snuck in through a skylight that was under repair and took 18 paintings and 37 pieces of jewelry, adding up to $2 million worth of goods in 30 minutes. An additional group of paintings, including a work by Picasso and an El Greco painting, was abandoned by a side door when one of the thieves accidentally triggered the alarm. The location of the stolen goods remains a mystery.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is open every day but Monday. Tickets can be bought at the door or in advance online. While here visit the bookstore to buy affordable jewelry, textiles and sculptures as well as art books and magazines. Have lunch or a snack at the on-site bistro.