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“Chihuly (glass) is worth going”

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts)
Ranked #8 of 376 things to do in Montreal
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The MMFA is one of Canada’s most visited museums and the eighth-most visited museum in North America, boasting more than 1.3 million visitors. The MMFA's original temporary exhibitions combine various artistic disciplines – fine arts, music, film, fashion and design – and are exported around the world. Its rich encyclopedic collection, distributed among five pavilions, includes international art, world cultures, decorative arts and design, and Quebec and Canadian art. The Museum has seen exceptional growth in recent years with the addition of two new pavilions: the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, in 2011, and the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, in 2016. The MMFA complex includes Bourgie Hall, a 460-seat concert hall. The Museum also houses the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the largest educational complex in a North American art museum, enabling the MMFA to offer innovative educational, wellness and art therapy programmes
Reviewed September 2, 2013

Never heard of Chihuly before and was blown away by his special exhibit. Do this first. I am not a big art person, but enjoy a few hours in museums. I liked the varied exhibits and this can be done in a few hours if you like to just sample. By getting a citi-pass at tourist office (must pay cash), do invest in Metro + Museum -- good deal with just 2 museums.

Thank AndoverMABicyclist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,503 - 2,507 of 4,067 reviews

Reviewed September 2, 2013

Just a bit of an update since many visitors seems to have difficutlies grasping the layout and what there is to see.
So the good news is that the access to the permanent collection and some small special ones is free. Donation accepted of course but nobody will twist your arm for it.
A lot of people just write reviews about the temporary exhibits and, indeed director Nathalie Bondil has a knack to organize or bring to Montréal special exhibitions that are always great crowd pleasers and most of time also appreciated by the artworld too.
Currently there is the Chihuly exhibition and many reviewers have expressed their enthusiasm here and I actually share it. Three problems with it though: the huge crowds that it attracts, the fact that the exhibition is more impressive as big and bold then through looking at the intricacies like paintings or themed exhibitions that were organized in the past so you are done with it in about an hour. Oh and the third problem is that there is a very interesting video about the Chihuly workshop but it is not included in the exhibition but only displayed in the large boutique across the street. Note that this is not the small video loop about the setting of the Sun piece on the museum outdoor stairs.
Yup that bring us to the museum layout. Each of the 4 pavillons are named from very generous benefactors but let's keep it simple and use only the family name. You have 3 pavillons on the north side of Sherbrooke Street, Hornstein, Stewart and Bourgie and one of the south, Desmarais. Currently only the entrance at the Desmarais is opened. This is where the European paintings are with the Napoleon collection and some contemporary in the basement where there area also prints and drawings. This pavillon also boast the main gift shop and the café (very good) and cafeteria and alsothe children workshops including a new family lounge with comic art on the walls.
Now you go by a tunnel underground to the north of Sherbrooke through more contemporary exhibits, then it branches, Bourgie to your left through a gallery of big and bright paintings from the 60's. Bourgie is about Canadian Art and the Inuit collection is on the top floor and very badly displayed. In the tunnel Hornstein is straight ahead through escalators and elevator. Mostly used for special exhibitions, like Chihuly now and also some galleries of archeology, African and Eastern Art. Then tucked behind Hornstein is Stewart in an ugly concrete extention of the 70's, it houses the very extensive collection of modern design + traditional decorative arts. It is easy to miss and many people that are not so hot for work of arts can relate to those.
Just to add that Bourgie is at the same time a pavillon for the Canadian arts but also a concert hall in a former Church. Also the stunning Tiffany windows there are visible only on some Saturday mornings and then only during concerts which is a shame and is why I give the Museum only 4 stars, the Tiffanies visible at all time and free and it would be a 5.
Tip 1. Signage is almost nonexistant, so inquiere with the employees (no docents in the galleries, just guaerds but better staff at entrance). Lately due to complains though a free map is available, it will help a bit but is not a great tool yet.
Tip 2. DO NOT repeat DO NOT use the stairs in the Desmarais pavillion, they are not conform to the building code of the Province but for some obscure reasons the museum got away with them. They are exhausting to climb and can be dangerous for old people or for people with some sight disabilities.
Tip 3. For the Chihuly exhibition (which cost $20) the hours have been extended but in the MORNING i.e. the museum opens at 10 instead of 11. The museum is not open at night except on Wednesdays when only the special exhibition that is open until 8 pm. It is is a total zoo then.
Tip 4. Do not plan on seeing the Chihuly exhibition during it's last two weeks in October it will be an über zoo then according to an employee. The only way to be able to see something would be to buy your tickets in advance and arrive 15 minutes before opening in front of the doors of the Desmarais building.

1  Thank rickb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2013

Do not miss the Chihuly Exhibit. We took our children (13 and 11) and had a awe inspired visit for approx 2 hours.

Thank Glen O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2013

The museum is housed in several buildings which are all connected underground. The permanent exhibits are free and there are some beautiful pieces of art. A lot of variety.

Thank LinaK221
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 1, 2013

The museum is probably worth a trip if you're in Montreal for a few days. We love museums and their collection is pretty basic when compared to what we've seen throughout the world. They have a nice Brueghel, a Memling, a Steen, a Ter Borsch, a Rembrandt, a Goya, an El Greco. In addition some nice Raeburns, Gainsbouroghs, Romneys, Reynolds. Rooms were well lit, text was very small as it was in both French and English. Stairs were hard for visually impaired (depth perception). The cafeteria was nice with a really good coffee panna cotto.

There were other buildings and parts of the collection we did not visit. We could not figure out how to enter the building that had the Inuit art, so that was disappointing,

A nice though not memorable visit. DId not visit the Dale Chihuly exhibit as we've seen him in Seattle man times before.

Thank A2travler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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