Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Following my trip to Ottawa for the NCPH conference, I was in Montreal for the Quebec National Truth and Reconciliation Commission event.  While in Montreal I had an opportunity to check out some of the local built heritage and heritage organizations.  Part of a day was spent exploring the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  

Having just visited the National Gallery of Canada a few days prior, it was hard not to make comparisons between the National Gallery and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  Overall, I think I actually liked the Montreal Museum better, the layout, exhibits, and overall feel just tended to sit better with me.

The Montreal facility isn’t as large as the National Gallery, however the exhibit space is still sizable.  I found the layout and flow between exhibits in the Montreal space better (eg. I didn’t end up all turned around in a gallery space with no idea of how to get out, like I did at the National Gallery).  The signage at the Montreal Museum is well placed and helped indicate a clear progression through the exhibits.

I found the mixture of eras at the Montreal Museum well done.  There was a number of galleries that contained modern and contemporary art, contrasted with gallery spaces featuring classical/early international art.  The balance of the the new and older art provided a sense that there was plenty to look at in the museum for everyone regardless of your art preference. I found the balance of gallery content much more evenly dispersed in the Montreal Museum than in the National Gallery.  The early international art collection in the upstairs of the National Gallery seems to go on forever, which though interesting can be overwhelming.

The Montreal Museum also has a substantial Archeology and World Cultures collection.  This collection includes artistic heritage items of numerous origins (Egyptian, Roman, African, Oceanic, Islamic, and Asian, etc).  This collection was displayed according to culture of origin and was well presented.  The variety of items in each exhibit was impressive and most of the items were surprisingly well documented considering their age and acquisition dates.

Overall I had a great visit to this space.  The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has free admission to all of their permanent exhibits. So, if you are in Montreal  have the time I would recommend taking a couple of hours to explore the facility, it’s a great space architecturally and has a lot of visually and historically interesting artwork.