I have to say. My impressions of the Centre d'Historie de Montreal changed considerably after I visited the more famous & glamorous Point-A-Calliere Museum.
The Centre D'Historie gave me a very good footing which served me very well when I visited Point-a-Calliere. Having visited both museums on consecutive days I learned very much about the history of Montreal and came away feeling like I really knew a lot about this great city.
The Centre d'Historie presents the development of Montreal in a very hands-on, easy to understand way. The history of the city begins with the indigenous population (of which you will learn on the ground floor) and continues with the invasion of the European powers from the 1600's onward, until modern day Montreal, with its characteristic French-English-Canadian features. The museum uses several media (pictures, books, tactile exhibits, video, audio etc) to give you a 360-degrees understanding of life in Montreal from its inception until today.
I also really enjoyed the exhibition "Scandal" which described Montreal during the years of Prohibitionism (in the USA) and how the city was able to adapt to cater to a lot of thirsty Americans and grew into the "Paris of the West".
I recommend visiting this museum first and then (possibly the next day as there is a lot of information to metabolize), paying a visit to the Point-A-Calliere Museum, to all those who are interested in learning about the history of Montreal.
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