Spring and Summer 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 May 16, 2022.

The age of the Vikings and the creative and private life of rock star and cultural icon Nick Cave are among the many must-see exhibitions at Montréal museums this Spring and Summer 2022.

The Vikings return to North America

The Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum in Old Montréal presents Vikings– Dragons of the Northern Seas from April 14 to October 10. The immersive blockbuster exhibition features some 650 objects and artefacts from the collections of the National Museum of Denmark.

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

 

Explore the MMFA

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts exhibition Nicolas Party: L’heure mauve (runs to October 16) is named after the iconic painting Mauve Twilight by Canadian Symbolist Ozias Leduc, found in the MMFA’s collection. Nicolas Party: L’heure mauve displays the full artistic range of rising star Nicolas Party in his first solo exhibition in Canada. Via some 100 works and a series of monumental frescos realized in situ, the Swiss-born artist unveils a dreamlike exhibition themed on nature.

The exhibition Adam Pendleton: These Things We’ve Done Together (runs to July 10) includes four new monumental paintings from New York-based Pendleton’s iconic series Untitled (WE ARE NOT).

Upcoming exhibitions:  Views of Within: Picturing the Spaces We Inhabit (opens June 1) brings together works from the museum’s collection that present one or several evocations of interior space, Museum of the Art of Today / Department of the Invisible is a conceptual and performative artwork by Montréal-based artist Stanley Février (June 15 to August 28), and Outside the Palace of Me is a multi-sensory installation featuring drawings, ceramic sculptures, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, a coin-operated sculpture and an interactive score by Canadian visual artist and performer Shary Boyle (opens August 31).

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. Also note that the Beaux-Arts Bistro and Beaux-Arts Restaurant are both temporarily closed.

 

Queer families and Indigenous history

Over at the McCord Museum, positive images and stories of the LGBTQ+ communities take centrestage in the work of renowned Montréal-based trans photographer JJ Levine whose specialty is intimate portraiture. A selection of photos from his series Queer PortraitsAlone Time and Switch are presented in his solo Queer Photographs exhibition (runs to September 18).

Art and Nature (opens June 10) is the first retrospective exhibition to showcase the aesthetic power of Alexander Henderson’s Canadian wilderness photographs, taken from the McCord archives, home to the largest collection of work by the renowned photographer (1831-1913).

 

The permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience pulls together 100 carefully selected objects from the museum’s Indigenous Cultures collection, while Piqutiapiit – a tribute to the creative work of Inuit women by artist Niap – runs to August 21.

If you haven’t seen Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ‘80s about the iconic Montréal New Wave fashion label whose celebrity clientele included Madonna, Duran Duran and Peter Gabriel, the blockbuster exhibition ends on April 24.

 

Blockbuster Exhibitions

The popular Art Souterrain Festival takes over six kilometres of Montréal’s downtown underground pedestrian network for its 14th edition until June 30, showcasing contemporary artworks created by 40 local and international artists around the theme Voies-Voix Résilientes (Resilient Voices-Pathways).

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presents the exclusive North American premiere of Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition until August 7 at the Galerie de la Maison du Festival, upstairs from Le Studio TD. Co-curated and co-designed by Cave, the exhibition features more than 300 objects collected or created through six decades of musician, storyteller and cultural icon Nick Cave’s creative and private life.

The World Press Photo Montréal exhibition returns to Bonsecours Market from August 31 to October 2.

North American premiere of the exhibition Frida Kahlo, The Life of an Icon presented at Arsenal Contemporary Art in Montreal’s Griffintown neighborhood is a critically-hailed immersive biography that offers a journey through the life of one of the most influential artists in history. The exhibition runs from June 10 to July 24. The visit will take about 90 minutes.

Avant-garde art at PHI

The PHI Centre, the SAT and the Goethe-Institut co-host the North American premiere of the Goethe-Institut’s touring multidisciplinary exhibition TECHNO WORLDS which explores the multifaceted techno scene, genres and political projects that emerged from the subcultures of the 1980s to the present day, tracing the processes of cultural and economic appropriation. TECHNO WORLDS is composed of various media such as artworks, photos, films, sculptures and sound installations, and is presented in the form of a circuit at the PHI Centre, the SAT and the Goethe-Institut from May 13 to until June 19.

In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art presents Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE, the Japanese artist’s first solo exhibition in Québec (July 6 to January 15, 2023). One of the most popular living contemporary artists in the world today, this comprehensive exhibition includes three of Yayoi Kusama’s signature bronze pumpkin sculptures in different sizes. While admission is free, a reservation for timed entry is required to ensure low waiting times and a pleasant passage through the exhibition.

 

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.”

On view: A Section of Now: Social Norms and Rituals as Sites for Architectural Intervention runs to May 1, the Retail Apocalypse exhibition examines the entangled worlds of architecture, fashion, business, and art (runs to October 23), 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 (opens June 11).

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.

The Biosphere environmental museum currently presents the temporary Colours of the World exhibition displaying 50 photographs from the National Geographic collectio celebrating the natural and cultural diversity of our planet (runs to June 30).

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

The brand-new 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. The Insectarium reopens on April 13.

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

Located in the Old Port, the kid-friendly permanent exhibitions at 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.

The Montréal Science Centre also presents The Science of Guinness World Records Exhibition until September 5. After your visit, try out some extreme sports in the Beyond Human Limits exhibition!

 

OASIS immersion

Masterpieces by Van Gogh get a dazzling digital treatment in the brand-new immersive exhibition VAN GOGH-Distorsion at Canada’s largest indoor immersive attraction, OASIS immersion at the Palais des congrès de Montréal beginning April 28. The exhibition 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.

 

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 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.

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 historic site is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm, until May 14. Then from May 15 to October 15, it is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm. Tickets can be bought online or at the door. Free admission to the chapel.

 

Heavenly architecture

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 MAC at Place Ville Marie

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – widely known as The MAC (or “Le MAC” in French) – presents Argentina-born, New York-based artist Mika Rottenberg’s eponymously-titled immersive exhibition from May 21 to October 10. Three video installations – NoNoseKnows (2015), Cosmic Generator (2017), and Spaghetti Blockchain (2019) – form the core of the exhibition, along with unusual sculptural objects that resonate with the videos.

The exhibition is presented at the MAC’s newly-minted 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.

 

Écomusée du fier monde

Dedicated to exploring the history of Montréal’s working class, the Écomusée du fier monde museum 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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