Kid-friendly museums in Montréal

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

NOTE : For the latest information on reopenings and special health measures in Montréal, consult this page.

This article was updated on July 16, 2020.

With visitors of all ages in mind, Montréal's museums constantly reinvent themselves with new multimedia exhibitions, hands-on workshops and educational activities that defy expectations. Among the many indoor activities for kids in Montréal, museums rank high for kids, whether they love science, the animal world, fine arts or the thrill of stepping into the past.

Science and nature

Montréal's hands-on science and nature museums let curious young minds explore our endlessly fascinating world. The Space for Life museums take kids from digging in the dirt all the way into the furthest reaches of space: roam the outdoor spaces of the Montréal Botanical Garden to learn more about the variety of plant-life in Québec, Canada and the tropics  (currently free for ages 17 and under), and see what the universe is really made of in exhibitions and immersive films at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. (The Insectarium and the Biodôme, famed for its multi-ecosystem atmosphere, re-open in 2021 after extensive renovations). The Montréal Science Centre is a must for educational entertainment and giant-screen adventures at its IMAX® TELUS Theatre. And discovere Québec's indigenous animal species outdoors at the Ecomuseum Zoo, where you'll spot bears, otters, wolves, hawks, caribou and more creatures all year round.

Art and culture

In the heart of the historic Golden Square Mile in downtown Montréal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts masterfully curates its collections exhibitions and hosts a roster of high-quality international exhibitions – the current major exhibition Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants is currently free to those 20 and under, while the museum's collections and activities are temporarily on hold. Close by in the Quartier des spectacles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) focuses on contemporary art from Canada and around the world in its themed collection exhibitions and in temporary major exhibitions that shed further light on well-known artists. The MAC is free for kids 12 and under.

Archaeology and natural history

An expert in creating educational exhibitions and activities for kids – and their parents! – the Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, in Old Montréal, takes us back to Montréal's very beginnings in multimedia exhibitions and lets kids play on the high seas in Pirates or privateers?, experience a simulated archaeological dig in an Archaeo-Adventure workshop, and even explore a (clean) sewer dating back to the 1830s. And the Musée de Lachine lets kids step inside its 17th-century buildings and takes families on a fur-trading adventure through New France.

Local and global history

Montréal's history museums go out of their way to bring history to life for kids of all ages. In Old Montréal, the Château Ramezay - Historic Site and Museum of Montréal opens a portal to 500 years of history, tracing the city's past in its exhibitions (including the original home of Claude de Ramezay, a Governor of Montréal in the 18th century), an engaging multimedia circuit and a beautiful French colonial garden. Downtown's McCord Museum explores the diversity of Montréal’s history in its main exhibitions, tracing the cultures of indigenous peoples and immigrants, highlighting local and international contributors to art, music and fashion, hosting the annual Toys exhibition during the holiday season. 

In Parc Jean-Drapeau, explore the Stewart Museum, located in a fort dating back to the 1820s, and enjoy outdoor activities like curling and snowshoeing in the courtyard, while summer brings escape games and more outdoor fun. Kids can climb aboard locomotives and hear stories all about trains at Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum. Young fashionistas can see Barbie through the decades at the free Barbie Expo downtown. And hundreds of celebrities and historical figures are rendered lifelike in wax at Grévin MONTRÉAL, reopening in September 2020, where kids can also create a 3D wax sculpture of their own hands in workshops every weekend.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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