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“Solid Museum Experience”

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts)
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Ranked #5 of 428 things to do in Montreal
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Founded in 1860 as the Art Association of Montreal by a group of Montreal art collectors and patrons, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) was one of the first museums in North America to build up an encyclopedic collection worthy of the name. It now numbers over 41,000 works from Antiquity to today, making it unique in Canada. It comprises paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photographs and decorative art objects displayed in four pavilions: the Jean-Noel Desmarais Pavilion (international art), the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion (world cultures), the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion (decorative arts and design) and the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion (Quebec and Canadian art). The latter, which was inaugurated in September 2011, includes a 444-seat concert hall - Bourgie Hall - featuring an important group of Tiffany stained glass windows. A fifth wing, the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace devoted to international art and education, will open in late 2016 to launch Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations.
Reviewed 11 November 2017

Not the largest museum you'll see, but it certainly has a nice collection with a few interesting exhibits. Once was probably enough for me. When I visited, several of the permanent exhibits were not open. A disappointment, to be sure, and my review might be different if I'd been able to see everything.

Thank Eldrlawyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 November 2017 via mobile

Great museum, even though I was limited in my visit: two buildings we're closed. Still the parts of the permanent collection that I did see we're lovely.

Thank CarlaDMitchell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 November 2017

Must see every new exhibit as well as the permanent displays. Something for every age group. Guided tours available in both languages(Eng & Fr). Art classes & projects for all ages. Sit down dining & casual eating cafeteria style. Indoor & outdoor exhibits. Location in center of downtown Montreal. Children free. Has become world renowned & even was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. Always innovative displays of their current exhibit. Great gift shop. Visit the music hall as well, for the concerts as well as the architecture. Must keep going back for frequent visits. Never ceases to amaze & inspire.

Thank Brenda C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2017

A visit of the Montreal Fine Arts Museum is a must. The quality of its exhibitions will satisfy, surprise and amaze the most demanding visitors. Its permanent exhibitions are not to be missed. The beauty and diversity of its architecture is unique and its location on the elegant Sherbrooke Street is superb as you can walk 2 minutes to Maison Boulud, one of the best restaurants of the city, located in the Ritz Carlton Hotel. This museum is such a great experience that it has more VIP members/friends than any other Canadian museum.

Thank Nicole A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2017

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (usually called by its French name, the Musée des Beaux-Arts), is an impressive museum complex with 5 pavilions or buildings on both sides of Sherbrooke Street, all linked by a lower-level concourse that passes under the street, allowing visitors to see the whole complex without going outside. The architecture is varied and reflects the museum's historical evolution: from the beaux-arts style of the first building to the 70s concrete brutalism of the first addition behind it to the post-modern style of the impressive main pavilion where visitors enter and buy tickets to the very contemporary style of the newest addition and the neo-romanesque style of a neighbouring church that has been repurposed as a concert hall. The various pavilions contain many fine spaces and even the strange stairway in the main pavilion, with steps too small to accommodate normal walking, has its appeal.

The art collection, however, is altogether somewhat unremarkable, considering the age and size of Montreal and its status as Canada's former metropolis, before the rise of Toronto. This was where most of Canada's 19th and early 20th century industrial wealth was concentrated (in the museum's very neighbourhood, in fact), yet the city's principal art museum contains nothing like the store of great works by famous artists that one finds in museums in comparably sized American cities (Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, St. Louis, etc.), or even in Toronto, let alone those in cultural capitals like Boston, Chicago and NYC. There are a few odds and ends by well-known artists, but most of the European collection is limited to second-rate pictures by relative unknowns: these are pleasant to look at, and some of them are even stimulating in their own way, but one very much has the impression of looking at leftovers that greater museums would have passed over. The Canadian collection, as might be expected, is somewhat better in this regard: there are a few nice Group of Seven paintings (though nothing to compare with what one finds in Ottawa, Toronto or Kleinburg), some pleasing local 19th century works by people like Cullen and Morrice, and a good collection of Inuit art, plus, of course, some truly notable work by franco-Quebec painters, in particular Borduas and Riopelle. The 70s addition has a good collection of modern furniture and design, and there is a reasonably extensive display of African and pre-Columbian Latin American art in a few small rooms of the old pavilion. However, visitors looking for landmark Canadian art by people like Carr, Colville, Harris, Jackson, MacDonald or Thomson will, with a small number of exceptions, be somewhat disappointed, and the European collection, while reasonably complete in its coverage of major periods in the history of art, illustrates those periods with minor works by lesser known painters, again with a few exceptions. There is a small and limited display on classical antiquity but virtually nothing from Asia, the Muslim world or Oceania, or even from native North America, apart from the Inuit collection. An exhibit of works by the Beaver Hall group of local painters is of purely local interest: these are not painters whose works hang in museums outside the province.

In short, the museum does its very best with what it has, and makes a very pleasant place to spend several hours looking at art, but what it has is frustratingly limited, at least to someone who has seen the major museums in other cities. Why this should be so in Montreal, once Canada's cultural capital, remains a mystery: what were all of those railroad barons doing with their money? Evidently not buying art, as they were in other cities.

Thank Charles B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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