It’s no secret that the art scene in Montréal is one of the best in North America; the city is known for spurring some of the world’s most famous and established art museums. There’s so much to experience throughout the city’s network of colorful neighborhoods. Whatever your niche is — architecture, vintage thrift stores, tattoo art, or even circuses—you can hop through modish districts and uncover hidden gem galleries brimming with innovative contemporary works, ancient artifacts, and more.
Highlighting an assortment of works created throughout multiple mediums of fine art, including fashion, theatre, painting, music, photography, and cinema, the Montréal Museum Of Fine Arts is the oldest and most spacious art gallery in Canada. This central downtown museum showcases a collection of Canadian and Quebec heritage art, as well as international work that spans mediums and centuries, spread out between five separate, interconnected pavilions. Including over 80 exhibition galleries, a concert hall, cinema, boutique, and a sculpture garden, this treasure trove destination is sure to captivate you for hours.
Located across from the McGill Campus in the downtown core of the city, The Mccord Museum is an established destination featuring a seemingly endless collection of preserved fashion, artwork, manuscripts, and photographs. Originally founded in 1921 by David Ross McCord, the museum was initially intended to display his family’s archival collections, but has since developed to conserve over one million objects. Celebrating the unique history of Montréal, the McCord has an ever-changing array of exhibits curated around historical themes, such as preserved clothing and artifacts of First Nations and Inuit cultures and a collection of pristine dresses detailing the artistic journey of Dior.
Located along the cobblestone pathways of the Montréal’s Old Port neighborhood, the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art is a non-profit organization founded by Phoebe Greenberg that showcases the thriving international art scene of the city. Featuring fresh art experiences including exhibitions, public events, pop-up shops, immersive virtual reality exhibits, and collaborative projects, the Phi Center embraces up-and-coming local and international talent. Visit the beautifully restored historical buildings to uncover an authentic contemporary Montréal art experience that pushes boundaries and ignites innovation, free of charge.
Located about three blocks away from the Phi Center, Yves Laroche Gallery is a cutting-edge space tucked away into the enchanting Old Port. Originally established with roots underground in the tattoo, graffiti, and comic book scene, Yves Laroche has established itself at the forefront of Canadian contemporary art. Featuring an eclectic mix of both up-and-coming and pre-established artists, this gallery highlights an array of off-center, aesthetically unique works. Explore their fascinating collection of pop art, illustration, street art, graphic design, and more at the inventive gallery juxtaposed with old European architectural surroundings.
La Guilde is a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve and display an extensive collection of Canadian, Inuit, and First Nations art and craftsmanship from the past century. A hidden gem brimming with rich history, La Guilde features an expansive permanent collection of artifacts and mixed media work along with rotating temporary galleries that highlight contemporary craftsmanship. Located just one minute away from the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in the famous downtown Golden Square Mile stretch, this free destination is a must for any history junkie or art lover.
The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is a world-renowned institution that features an expertly curated display of both Canadian and international contemporary artists. Along with an array of temporary galleries highlighting unique and culturally relevant themes, MACM has a permanent collection that reflects important trends throughout contemporary art. MACM was the first museum of its kind in Canada, originally founded by the Quebec government in 1964 as the only museum exclusively dedicated to displaying both contemporary visual and performing arts. The museum is currently located in the bustling and vibrant Place des Arts, the largest cultural complex in Canada.
Art Mur is a more low-key contemporary private gallery located in the fashionable and artistic Mile End neighborhood. Explore their expansive, rotating collection of diverse avant-garde works in a variety of mediums, featuring both Canadian and international artists spread between three spacious floors. Art Mur is famous for showcasing dynamic and innovative art that is crucial in impacting the contemporary art scene of Montréal. One of the largest and most iconic private galleries in the country, Art Mur is ideal for gallery hoppers touring the eclectic sights of the Mile End.
Founded in 1979 by Montréal architect Philip Lambert, the Canadian Center For Architecture seeks to promote awareness of the intrinsic value that architecture has in our daily lives. The museum is located in the historical Shaughnessy House, a nineteenth-century mansion that was purchased by Lambert to prevent its demolition, in the picturesque neighborhood of Ville-Marie. The structure of the museum encompasses exhibit halls, a theatre, a bookstore, and a mesmerizing postmodern architectural sculpture garden. The CCA houses regular exhibits that embrace thematic elements and innovative aspects of architecture, as well as a permanent exhibition featuring work from significant architects including Ernest Cormier and Peter Eisenman.
Experience the futuristic reality at the intersection of creativity and technology at this sci-fi-esque experimental hub in the heart of Downtown Montréal. The Society of Arts Technology is a non-profit organization that encourages innovation and creativity in the digital age. The museum is topped with a spherical projection theater and is full of immersive technologies including (but not limited to) 3-D design and virtual reality as well as hosts residencies for cutting-edge digital artists and creators. The visionary hub also presents plenty of events such as open-air movie nights and hackathon workshops. There is always something cool and geeky happening here.
A non-profit organization that works towards social change, sustainability, and awareness through an abundance of cultural and art events, Never Apart is a hidden gem of Montréal’s Mile End, a neighborhood brimming with creativity and curated thrift shops. Discover emerging local artists through community-oriented creative events, discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and more. Never Apart encompasses a picturesque mezzanine, pool, creative space, music production, and gallery that welcomes visitors to uncover the uniquely curated exhibitions that are set forth to ignite change. Embracing all forms of art, Never Apart promotes visual art, music, cinema, and more.
If circuses are your thing, or even if they aren’t, this one-of-a-kind exhibition space is one of the most exciting cultural destinations in Canada. Located in the heart of Montréal, Circus Arts City Tohu is a year-round contemporary circular theatre featuring live acrobatic performances, annual circus displays, and an array of unique exhibits and performances. Witness the wonder of their private collection featuring thousands of circus artifacts dating back to the 1700s that is permanently on display.
In the heart of Old Montréal, Galerie D’art Blanche displays an impressive collection of contemporary work. The gallery represents a curated selection of up-and-coming Quebec and Canadian artists who have been established as forward-thinking and talented newcomers to the exciting art scene of the city. Visit this elegant gallery for a chance to engage and discover active elements of Canadian contemporary art and meet the incredibly friendly staff who are more than happy to share valuable information about the artists, backstories, and concepts presented in the work. The gallery is located in a neighborhood brimming with specialty boutiques, historical architecture, and other plentiful galleries to visit–an ideal spot for any art lover looking to embrace the artistic fabric of Montréal.