Fall and Winter exhibitions at Montréal museums

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 page was updated on November 2, 2022.

The world premiere of a blockbuster exhibition about pop icon Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life, work and meteoric career, to a major career retrospective of Pink Floyd are among the many must-see exhibitions at Montréal museums this Fall and Winter 2022

Explore the MMFA

The season opens with Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me (runs to January 15, 2023). Bringing together ceramics, drawings, kinetic sculptures and an interactive soundtrack, this installation by the Canadian artist explores the performative aspects of identity in a time when social media has become a stage for self-presentation. 

Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956-1971 features some 90 gelatin silver prints by the famed American photographer. The exhibition (to January 29, 2023) provides a chronological look at the singular vision of this artist who revolutionized portraiture. 

The season highlight will be the MMFA’s world premiere of Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music (to February 19, 2023), an innovative exploration of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life, work and meteoric career. This is the first large-scale multimedia exhibition devoted to the role of music in the work of one of the most innovative artists of the second half of the 20th century.  

ᑐᓴᕐᓂᑐᑦ Tusarnitut! Music Born of the Cold (November 10 to March 13, 2023) combines anthropology and Indigenous art history to showcase the connections between Inuit visual art and music, while the exhibition Views of Within: Picturing the Spaces We Inhabit, featuring some 20 Quebec and Canadian artists, runs to July 2, 2023. 

Visitors must 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 Pink Floyd Exhibition

After its hugely successful debut at London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum in 2017, The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains makes its Canadian premiere at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal (November 4 to December 31)  in the heart of Griffintown. The acclaimed exhibition features more than 350 artefacts collected over the band’s extraordinary career. It is an audio-visual, sensorial journey through more than five decades of one of the world’s most iconic rock bands.

Incidentally, Pink Floyd’s 6 July 1977 concert at Montréal’s Olympic Stadium – which drew 78,322 spectators – was the inspiration for the band’s legendary double album The Wall.

Tickets for the exhibition on sale now at pinkfloydexhibition.com.


Headdresses and pirates

The exhibition Headdresses from Around the World from the Antoine de Galbert Collection features over 300 pieces of headwear from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, and runs from November 17 to March 12, 2023. 

Families will also enjoy the permanent Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? exhibition. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online before visiting the museum.


Avant-garde art at PHI

The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art presents the blockbuster exhibition Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE by one of the most popular living contemporary artists in the world today (runs to January 15, 2023). This compact exhibition offers an introduction to Kusama’s artistic universe, with a desire to impart the spiritual and philosophical aspects of her work. Free admission but reservations are required. Due to the high volume of visitors, the PHI Foundation is unable to accept walk-ins. 

OASIS immersion

Masterpieces by Van Gogh get a dazzling digital treatment in the immersive exhibition VAN GOGH - Distorsion at Canada’s largest indoor immersive attraction, OASIS immersion at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. 

The exhibition (extended to 8 January 2023) offers a bright and colourful immersive journey through some 225 paintings, drawings and sketches by the iconic Dutch-born painter. Fitted with 119 surround-sound speakers and 105 laser projectors creating 360° projections on the walls and floors of three galleries, the experience runs approximately 65 minutes. 

Departures with limited places are available every 20 minutes. Tickets available via oasis.im or ticketpro.ca. It is highly recommend to arrive onsite 10 minutes prior to your scheduled start, as indicated on your ticket. The exhibition will also be on hiatus from November 28 to December 20.

The MAC at Place Ville Marie

The Nelson Henricks exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – widely known as The MAC (or “Le MAC” in French) – presents the immersive artworks of the renowned Montréal artist, including two previously unseen works produced specially for the occasion and premièring at the MAC. The exhibition runs from November 17 to April 10, 2023.

All MAC  exhibitions are presented at the MAC’s temporary location in the Place Ville Marie shopping mall during the museum’s current $57-million renovation expected to be completed in 2024. The new MAC will open in 2025. 

Click here for tickets and directions.



The Great Outdoors and Indigenous history

Over at the McCord Stewart Museum, Art and Nature (runs to April 16, 2023) is the first major retrospective devoted to Alexander Henderson’s Canadian wilderness photographs, taken from the McCord archives which are home to the largest collection of work by the renowned photographer (1831-1913). 

The photography exhibitions Disraeli Revisited (runs to February 19, 2023) and INCIPIT – COVID-19 (runs to January 22, 2023) both explore challenging times in Quebec history. 

The permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience pulls together 100 carefully selected objects from the museum’s Indigenous Cultures collection.



The art of architecture

The Canadian Centre for Architecture is not just an architectural jewel in the heart of downtown Montréal, but a world-renowned museum of architecture and international research institution that believes “architecture is a public concern.” 

Currently on view: the Retail Apocalypse exhibition examines the entangled worlds of architecture, fashion, business, and art (runs to January 15, 2023), and the Indigenous-led exhibition and publication project ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home explores how Inuit, Sámi, and other communities across the Arctic are creating self-determined spaces (runs to February 12, 2023). 

As CCA founder Phyllis Lambert says, “We’re not a museum that puts things out and says, ‘This is architecture.’ We try to make people think.” 



Space for Life museums

Children of all ages can discover new worlds at Montréal Space for Life, the largest natural-sciences museum complex in Canada. 

Montréal Space for Life comprises the Botanical Garden, Planetarium, the Biosphere, Insectarium and famed Biodôme

In the Planétarium, the domes of the Chaos and Milky Way theatres are equipped with state-of-the-art laser projectors for an ultra-HD experience. The Planétarium offers a double bill each day. 

Over at the Botanical Garden, in addition to the carnivorous plants, visitors can admire superb passionflowers and begonias in full bloom, and see fruit growing on banana, carambola, jackfruit and papaya trees, daily in the greenhouses. Their annual Gardens of Light event runs to October 31.  

The Biosphere environmental museum presents two temporary exhibitions: Sometimes We Look, Sometimes We See by Chinese-Canadian artist Hua Jin is a photographic series about nature during the first year of the COVID pandemic (runs to May 28, 2023); and Tropicana by Montreal-based Costa Rican artist Juan Ortiz-Apuy is specially designed for youth aged 6 to 14, and casts a critical eye on modern consumer society and advertising aimed at children, which often features animals, colours, sounds and shapes designed to appeal to them (runs to February 5, 2023).

The Biodôme takes visitors through the five ecosystems of the Americas. The Biodôme is a huge crowd-pleaser. 

The renovated Insectarium is the first museum in North America where you can observe so many species of insects live – some roaming freely – and naturalized in one place. 

Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.



The Ecomuseum Zoo

The Ecomuseum Zoo is the only outdoor zoo on the island of Montréal and offers visitors a unique and natural experience to observe 115 animal species – including Black Bears, Woodland Caribou, River Otters, Turtles, Canada Lynx and Eagles – found in Québec’s Saint Lawrence Valley. The popular 11-hectare zoo located in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is a 25-minute drive from downtown Montréal. There is also free on-site parking for all guests. 

The Ecomuseum Zoo is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The last admission of the day is at 4 PM. Tickets must be purchased online in advance



Montréal Science Centre

The interactive exhibition Dinosaurs Around the World at the Montréal Science Centre in the Old Port (runs to March 12, 2023) explores the world of dinosaurs on seven continents, and features 20 life-sized dinosaurs that move and make sounds. Kids will also be able to climb on the back of a Tyrannasurus Rex, an Apatosaurus and a Mojocerators, as well as touch a real 67-million-year-old fossil!

The kid-friendly permanent exhibitions at the Montréal Science Centre are all open, while its IMAX cinema screens films for all ages. Click here for the screening schedules of the latest films. 


Château Ramezay – Historic Site and Museum of Montréal

Originally built in 1705 by Montréal’s then-governor Claude de Ramezay as his personal residence, the Château Ramezay is the oldest private historical museum in Québec. Permanent and seasonal exhibitions attest to the far-reaching history of Montréal, but none so much as the Château Ramezay itself, which served as the Canadian headquarters of the American Revolutionary Army in 1775-1776, and where Benjamin Franklin stayed when he tried to persuade Montréal to join the revolution. 

Temporary exhibitions currently on view: Inuit Worlds – The Collection of Saladin d’Anglure features 40 Inuit objects, and Roald Amundsen – Lessons from the Arctic tells the journey of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Both exhibitions run to April 9, 2023. 

The Château Ramezay welcomes visitors daily from 10 am to 5 pm. No reservations are required. 


Our Lady of the Harbour

Visitors are transported back through time at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Historic Site which houses the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in the heart of Old Montréal. 

Built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Historic Site houses a museum dedicated to Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, the Frenchwoman who founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montréal and was the colony’s first teacher back in 1653 (Bourgeoys was canonized by the Vatican in 1982). Bourgeoys is buried in the chapel. 

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel is also known as the “Sailor’s Church” not just because it overlooks the harbour, but because it was famed in the 19th century for being a pilgrimage site for sailors who arrived in the Port (now the Old-Port).  

Visitors can climb the chapel’s belvedere to join the “angels of Ville-Marie” and enjoy spectacular views of the Old Port and Old Montréal, as well as visit the permanent Meet Marguerite! exhibition exploring Bourgeoys’ personal saga and legacy.  

The temporary exhibition Nuns, Teachers AND... Scientists! (runs to April 10, 2023) tells the story of how beginning in the 19th century the Ursuline sisters and the Congrégation de Notre-Dame created innovative programs to teach science to their female students 

The historic site is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm. Tickets can be bought online or at the door. Free admission to the chapel.



Heavenly exhibition

The permanent exhibition at the Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal explores the 300-year history of Montréal’s first hospital, Hôtel-Dieu, along with that of the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph, a pioneering community of women who laid the foundations of the healthcare system, in Montréal and elsewhere in Canada. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 12 PM and from 1 PM to 5 PM. The museum also presents some unique events this autumn on and off-site. 



Écomusée du fier monde

Dedicated to exploring the history of Montréal’s working class, the Écomusée du fier mondemuseum is open from Wednesday to Sunday.  


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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