By: Muhan Zhang
One of the perks of studying Art History in the vibrant and art-hoe packed city of Montreal is that art is everywhere you go. Student mainstays MBAM and MAC are just a few blocks in either direction of the Roddick Gates, the various neighbourhoods bordering McGill’s downtown campus are teeming with hip contemporary art galleries, and, of course, you can’t walk through the Plateau or even the student ghetto without marveling at the murals from our annual Mural Festival.
And yet, in spite of the abundance of museum and galleries around me, in spite of my manic dreams of becoming an art historian/curator/art-world something, even in spite of my lifelong rep as The Proverbial Art-hoe to live up to, I’ve probably only participated in Montreal’s art scene a scant handful of times since moving here. Looking back, even these few excursions were mostly for the purpose of completing assignments.
While there are a couple factors to blame for my inactive art life, among them the weather, my over-ambitious course-load, and construction, what it really comes down to is just a lack of trying. Lucky for you, however, I’ve done all the tedious stuff for you in compiling this guide with all the need-to-know info on making the most of admission fees and memberships on a student budget, accessibility from campus on foot or by transit, and more.
For my fellow shameless self-curators/curators-of-the-self, all that’s left to do now is grab your student ID, pick out your geotags and filters, and get to enriching those minds, bodies, and social media feeds.
MBAM | MAC | McCord | DHC-ART | Parisian Laundry | Station 16 | SBC Gallery | FOFA Concordia | Gallery X Concordia | La Galerie UQAM
*Please note: All admission fees listed below are student prices. They may also change from the time I am writing this/I might have made mistakes in my research so make sure to double-check fees, hours, and so on for yourself before heading out!
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal (MBAM)
1380, Rue Sherbrooke O | Open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday and to 9pm on Wednesdays
Getting there: Under 10 minutes walk from Roddick Gates and on the 24 bus route but be mindful of impediments to both during Sherbrooke construction hell.
Free for permanent collections and the Discovery Exhibitions
$15 for major exhibitions
$35 for the “Avant-Garde VIP” 1 year membership for adults under 30
Chagall Colour and Music | January 28 to June 11, 2017:
Over 400 art and documentary works, biggest Canadian exhibition ever devoted to Chagall, colourful, happy, about “Chagall’s profound connection to music in his life and work.”
The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace | opened November 19, 2017:
Brand new pavilion with 750 works from Old Masters to contemporary artists across 4,958 square metres and six floors. The stuff dreams are made of, would recommend.
Musée d’arts Contemporain de Montréal (MAC)
185 St-Catherine O | Hours vary (closed on Mondays)
Getting there: A bit farther of a walk from campus than MBAM but is located on pretty much any transit line going through Place-des-Arts.
$10 for regular admission
Half-price on Wednesday evenings 5pm to 9pm
For Time is the Longest Distance Between Two Places | until March 12, 2017
“…features works that express our need to define a typology for our relationship to time and space, and that reveal artists’ propensity to want to depict this relationship, from the infinitely large to the infinitely small.”
Illuminart Art Workshop | February 1 to February 11, 2017
Free with registration. “Inspired by Sarah Sze’s dazzling work Measuring Stick, 2015, on view at the MAC, participants will display their creativity by producing one of the 200 elements that will form one of the light installations in the Illuminart event, part of the Montréal en lumière festival.”
680 Rue Sherbrook O | Hours vary (Closed Mondays)
Getting there: Literally across the street from Roddick, if you have any classes in 688 SH you could mosey on next door after class. 11/10
Free on Wednesdays starting at 5pm for regular admission, reduced fee of $9.50 for the major exhibitions
$9.00 for regular admission
$14.00 for major exhibitions
$30 for the “Young McCord” 1 year membership for ages 18-40
Notman, A Visionary Photographer | until March 26, 2017
This exhibition offers a new perspective on the career of William Notman (1826–1891), who became the first Canadian photographer with an international reputation during the nineteenth-century.
Wearing Our Identity: The First Peoples Collection | permanent exhibition
3523 Boul. St-Laurent (Lower Plateau) | Open 9am to 7pm Tuesday to Friday
Getting there: A 5 minute walk from my house and probably from yours too if you live in the ghetto or lower Plateau.
Super cool contemporary art inspired by graffiti and street art. Official gallery of the Mural festival. Only slightly over-priced stickers, postcards, and other rad merch. Casual vibes.
451 Saint Jean St. (Old Port) | Open 12pm-7pm, Wednesday to Friday, 11am-6pm Saturday to Sunday
Getting there: Not on your way home or anything but near Place-d’Arms and Square-Victoria-OACI stations. Take your mom or that one tourist friend who wants to go site-seeing and/or swank dinner-eating in Old Port.
Wim Delvoye | until March 19, 2017
“Part of a larger series, this provocative machine/sculptural work reproduced the human digestive system whereby food was processed and transformed into waste matter. This initiation into Delvoye’s oevre offered insight into his examination of consumerism and his critique of our intensely capitalist society.”
Nuite Blanche 2017 | 8:00pm March 4, 2017
“In conjuction with the exhibition Wim Delvoye, DHC/ART Education invites the general public to participate in the 2017 edition of Nuit Blanche.”
3550 Rue Saint Antoine West | Open 12pm-5pm Tuesday to Saturday
Getting there: The most out of the way location in this list at a 6 minute walk away from Lionel-Groulx station.
“Parisian Laundry is one of Canada’s leading contemporary art galleries. The gallery occupies two floors of a 15 000 square foot restored industrial building in Montréal, Québec.”
Bracelets, David Armstrong Six | January 13 to February 11, 2017
The Waves, Paul Hardy | January 13 to February 11, 2017
SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art
372 Rue St-Catherine O | Open 11am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and to 8pm on Thursdays
Getting there: Metro Place-des Arts (exit to Bleury).
Wood Land School: Kahatènhston tsi na’tetiátere ne Iotohrkó: wa tánon Iotohrha, Drawing a Line from January to December | until December 2017
“For the duration of 2017, SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art will be renamed and operate as the Wood Land School. This is the continuation of a conversation, and it is the forging of new relationships. From an initial position of Indigenous self-determination and collectivity, we situate ourselves as impacted upon by forces both nurturing and destructive; we work to be aware of our own participation in dispossession; and we consider our capacity to articulate new ways of being in relation.”
Nuit Blanche 2017 | 8:00pm March 4, 2017
1515 Ste-Catherine O | Open 11am-6pm Monday to Friday
Getting there: Located in the EV building at the heart of Concordia, only 10 minutes from McGill on the 24 bus or the green line.
Making Spaces Undergraduate Student Exhibition | January 16 to February 17, 2017
The annual Concordia undergraduate exhibition featuring works by students in the Faculty of Fine Arts along with writers from the department of Art History and designers from the department of Design and Computation Arts. This year debuting an additional collaboration with performers of the department of Contemporary Dance (see below).
Dance Collaboration: Performance Evenings | 5pm-7pm January 26, February 2, 9, 16, 2017
Gallery X at Concordia University
1395 Boul. René-Lévesque O | Open 8:45am-7pm on Mondays, 8:45am-4pm on Fridays
A student run gallery that exists concurrent to Cafe X, a student-run fine arts café at Concordia. All vegetarian menu with gluten-free and vegan options.
La Galerie de l’UQAM
1400 Rue Berri | Open 12pm to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday
Getting there: Conveniently at Berri-UQAM station. Make an extended detour the next time you’ve lost and/or need to renew your OPUS ID.
Françoise Sullivan. Trajectoires resplendissantes | January 11 to February 18, 2017
“Unfolding over many decades, the remarkable career of Françoise Sullivan occupies an important place in the history of Québec and Canadian art. In the mid-1940s, when she was surrounded by thinkers, poets and artists from all walks of life, her debuts in dance and painting were an opportunity to explore the aesthetic concerns shaking up the art world of the period, particularly as a member of Les Automatistes.”
Jonathan Plante. Angle mort | January 11 to February 18, 2017
“The Galerie de l’UQAM presents the exhibition Angle mort by Jonathan Plante, a graduating master’s student in Visual and Media Arts at UQAM. The artist will reveal a series of paintings and prints on lenticular supports, a process that creates an impression of movement. Depending on the viewpoint of the observer, images appear, disappear and transform themselves. Plante activates the gaze and involves the viewer’s body in the experience of the image’s various temporalities.”
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of the art-related sites and sights of Montreal but hopefully it will give you somewhere to start in your own art explorations and adventures both in and out of the McGill bubble.