The MMFA in 2023: The art of diversity

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on January 30, 2023.

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts 2023 program highlights women and Indigenous artists tackling some of the most pressing concerns of our time, with major exhibitions devoted to such internationally-acclaimed artists as Marisol, Nalini Malani and Dempsey Bob, as well the blockbuster summer exhibition Portable Universe: Thought and Splendour of Indigenous Colombia.

What’s new in 2023

The major exhibition Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design (February 18 – May 28) celebrates the instrumental role women have played in the world of design through art works and objects dating from the mid-19th century onwards. In addition, it examines why women are underrepresented in the history of this discipline and encourages an expanded understanding of what constitutes design. This is also the first exhibition to connect the work of both American and Canadian women designers and designer-makers. Parall(elles) also includes the unique prototype Fancy Free Corvette designed by Ruth Glennie in 1958.



Nalini Malani: Crossing Boundaries (March 23 to August 20)  is the first Canadian solo exhibition of Nalini Malani, one of the most important Indian artists whose work for over five decades has focused on giving a voice to the stories of marginalized people – particularly women. Recognized as the pioneer of video art in India, this exhibition brings together her most recent nine-channel video installation Can You Hear Me? Also, from February 25 to August 20, from dusk until 11 pm, a video work by the artist will be projected onto the facade of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion as part of the MMFA’s Digital Canvas project.



Wolves: The Art of Dempsey Bob (May 18 to September 10) is the first career retrospective of the internationally-renowned master carver from the Northwest Coast of Canada. This exhibition retraces Dempsey Bob’s spectacular global career, from his training alongside Haida sculptor Freda Diesing to the present day. Some 60 works on display – masks, sculptures and textile creations – reflect his Tahltan and Tlingit heritage.


The blockbuster Portable Universe: Thought and Splendour of Indigenous Colombia exhibition (June 3 to October 1) brings together 400 works of Colombian art dating from about 1500 BCE to the present day. The exhibition features some of the most remarkable artworks ever made in this region, including intricately cast gold pendants and hammered gold masks.


The Pop Art in the Collection of the MMFA exhibition (August 31 to March 24) showcases works by such artists as Pierre Ayot and Tom Wesselmann who drew their inspiration from mid-20th century popular culture. This exhibition features iconic works of Pop art alongside creations from the Museum’s reserves that have rarely or never been shown.



The MMFA presents the world premiere of Marisol: A Retrospective (October 7 to January 21, 2024), the most comprehensive survey ever devoted to the groundbreaking artist and celebrated member of Andy Warhol’s circle. Born Marìa Sol Escobar, Marisol (1930-2016) was one of the most innovative artists of her generation whose audacious art helped define the 1960s. This exhibition includes some of her painted life-size wood sculptural works, as well as source materials, sketches, studies, and personal photographs to further illuminate her working methods, life and times.



The MMFA marks the 100th year of Montréal artist Françoise Sullivan (b. 1923) – a figurehead of modern art, a pioneer of Quebec dance, and a signatory of the Refus global manifesto – with an exhibition (October 31 to February 18, 2024) of her recent paintings, in which Sullivan continues to explore the timeless themes of movement and light.

Throughout the coming year, numerous talks, artistic performances and educational activities for all audiences will round out the MMFA program.

Continuing exhibitions

The ᑐᓴᕐᓂᑐᑦ TUSARNITUT! Music Born of the Cold: Inuit Art, Dance and Song exhibition (runs to March 12) explores the place of music in Inuit visual art and showcases some 100 Inuit sculptures, prints, drawings and installations by renowned artists that illustrate Inuit musical expression in all of its forms.

The blockbuster Music and the Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition (runs to February 19) is an innovative multi-media look at the role of music in the iconic artist’s career, presenting some 100 paintings and drawings with numerous sound clips, film footage and archival documents, immersing visitors in the New York of the 1970s and 1980s where Basquiat elevated street art to the status of fine art.


How to buy tickets

Visitors must absolutely book their tickets online and select the date and time of their visit. Tickets are date-time stamped to control the flow of visitors. This rule ensures public safety and allows visitors a more intimate exploration of the exhibitions.

The museum boutique and bookstore are open, as is The Beaux-Arts Bistro.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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