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“Great design makes the collection sizzle - and it's right downtown”

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts)
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Ranked #5 of 396 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.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
119 reviews
81 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 167 helpful votes
“Great design makes the collection sizzle - and it's right downtown”
Reviewed November 1, 2012

OK, it's not the Louvre; Montreal is a small city. But the design makes the collection punch way above its weight.

The decorative arts wing, for example, is in the museum's old building, but they deconstructed and designed the hell out of their old classical box, making a space and a collection that is so visually arresting it may take a minute before you notice that you're looking at familiar Thonet and Philippe Starck production pieces.

You've probably come for the Canadian pieces, and they do remind you that Canada and Montreal were provincial. But the reuse of an old Romanesque church is wonderful, and the Moshe Safdie building joins the sundry "pavilions" with a lively concourse.

In short, the whole is much better than the sum of its parts. A tribute to a great curator or Board of Directors, I don't know the place well enough to know who was responsible, only that as an experience it works beautifully.

The museum is in the city center a short walk from your hotel or meeting, and a wonderful oasis on a business trip.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank 10027
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great Museum, beautiful architecture”
Reviewed November 1, 2012

Great building designed by Moshe Safdie. Nice collections of European masters as well as Canadian art. Lots of interesting items in the gift shop. Avoid the cafeteria - food is not great.

Visited October 2012
Thank Jean Pierre A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Park City, Utah
Level Contributor
18 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“It's free!”
Reviewed November 1, 2012

Can't beat the admission price compared to other art museums around the world. I think the best part of the museum I enjoyed most was the Napoleon permanent exhibit. One of the hats he actually wore is in Montreal. Pretty cool to see that kind of history.

Visited October 2012
Thank 1stClassJetSetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
14 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Lovely place!”
Reviewed October 30, 2012

It was a wonderful experience! Truly a great piece of culture and history! I loved all of the sections especially the contemporary! If you are a lover of the arts, this museum is a must see!

Visited December 2011
Thank sugars03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
148 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 228 helpful votes
“airy, pleasant space, varied collections”
Reviewed October 28, 2012

The buildings are interesting, collections varied and include some big names, though not a lot of famous works. Entrance to the permanent collection is free and the often excellent, world-class temporary exhibits can be viewed at 1/2 price on Wednesday nights (5-9pm).

I love the architecture, grand staircase in elegant Beaux-Arts-style pavilion, glass roof with great views in Safdie's creation across the street ..but the street can be crossed underground. There is a nice gift shop and restaurant.

A very good Impressionist exhibition on right now and until the 20th of January, with many major works by Renoir and Monet, among others.

Visited October 2012
Thank innaMontreal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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