Spring 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 article was updated on April 30, 2024.

Blockbuster exhibitions about Flemish masterworks to the first known civilization of Mesoamerica are among the many must-see retrospectives andexpositions at Montréal museums this Spring 2024.

Explore the MMFA

 

 

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in the Golden Square Mile presents the Canadian premiere of O’Keeffe and Moore: Giants of Modern Art, a large-scale exhibition that, for the first time, sets the work of American painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) in dialogue with that of British sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986). Through over 120 works, together with recreations of each artist’s studio, the exhibition examines the lives and art of these two 20th-century icons, retraces the evolution of their artistic practices and underscores the fundamental relationship between humanity and the natural world. Runs to June 2.

 

 

The Pop of Life! Pop Art in the Collection of the MMFA showcases iconic works of Pop Art from the Museum’s collection, including creations that have rarely or never been shown. The exhibition brings together installations, sculptures, paintings, textiles, drawings and prints by Canadian artists associated with the Pop movement, such as Pierre Ayot, Edmund Alleyn and Joyce Wieland, alongside their international contemporaries, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Eduardo Paolozzi. Has been extended to July.

Renowned Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop’s first monographic museum presentation in Québec, Who Owns The Moon runs from April 11 to August 4.

Tōkaidō: Dreamscapes by Andō Hiroshige showcases the series “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō” by the legendary Japanese 19th century ukiyo-e artist and printmaker from April 27 to September 8. 

Saints, Sinners, Lovers and Fools: Three Hundred Years of Flemish Masterworks exhibition from The Phoebus Foundation’s world-class collection of early modern Flemish art transports visitors to the Southern Netherlands during a dynamic period of social, scientific, economic and artistic development (1400-1700). Runs from June 8 to October 20.

Reliving the past

 

The Olmecs and the Civilizations of the Gulf of Mexico exhibition at the Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex in Old Montréal explores the first known civilization of Mesoamerica, documenting nearly four millennia of history, trade and cultural traditions that are still shrouded in mystery. Runs from April 18 to September 15.

The Saint-Henri exhibition explores the vibrant and captivating history of a unique Montréal neighbourhood, runs to May 11, 2025.

 

 

Families will also enjoy Pointe-à-Callière’s permanent Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? interactive exhibition.

Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online before visiting the museum. 

 

Avant-garde art at PHI

 

The PHI Foundation of Contempory Art in Old Montréal presents two new exhibitions, FEELING HER WAY, an immersive installation by British Afro-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce, consisting of bespoke wallpaper, posters, photography, sculpture, video, and sound; and Efflorescence/The Way We Wake displays recent paintings and sculptures by artists Rajni Perera from Sri Lanka and Marigold Santos from the Philippines. Both exhibitions run from May 3 to September 8. Free admission. 

 

 

The Phi Centre presents Colored: The Unknown Life of Claudette Colvin, an augmented-reality experience that uses the HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset to bring to life the story of U.S. Black civil rights pioneer and icon Claudette Colvin. Extended to April 28.

 

 

Then In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats transports visitors via virtual reality to the heart of a rave during the 1989 peak of rave culture in England, accompanied by the sounds of old-school Acid House. Extended to April 28.

 

Ancient Egypt revisited

 

 

The PHI also presents The Horizon of Khufu: A Journey in Ancient Egypt, a unique VR expedition that brings together ancient history and new technologies to relive the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu and explore the 146-metre-high Great Pyramid of Giza, Khufu’s final resting place built between 2,590 and 2,565 BC. Visitors wander through galleries and spaces inside the Great Pyramid before reaching its top for a breathtaking view of modern Cairo and the Giza Plateau, then board an Ancient Egyptian sun boat on the Nile to witness the funerary rite of Khufu 4,500 years ago. 

The Horizon of Khufu is located in the Old Port next door to the Montréal Science Centre. Children under 8 not admitted. The 45-minute immersive experience has been extended to May 31.

 

Canada’s Michelangelo

 

 

After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italian-born master-glassmaker, painter-decorator, and fresco painter Guido Nincheri travelled to Boston in 1913, then moved to Montréal the following year, becoming the most prolific religious artist in Canada during the 20th century. Known as Canada’s Michelangelo, Nincheri (1885-1973) is celebrated in the Du profane au sacré exhibition at the Château Dufresne museum and historical site to mark the 50th anniversary of his passing. The temporary exhibition displays some 40 selected original works, archival documents, artefacts, and a video. Runs to June 30, 2024.

 

OASIS immersion

 

 

Canada’s largest indoor immersive attraction, OASIS immersion at the Palais des congrès de Montréal presents Dreaming of Asia, a walk-through museum-type experience where visitors enjoy three spellbinding state-of-the-art immersive experiences inspired by the cultural heritages of China and Japan including graceful Japanese prints that have struck the imagination of people worldwide, strolling immersed through the famed Chinese painting Along the River during the Qingming Festival, and seeing Piying shadow puppets come to life.

In collaboration with National Geographic, OASIS immersion presents a second brand-new immersive exhibition, Root forNature, inspired by the historic COP15 agreements. Root for Nature immerses visitors in a striking interpretation of biodiversity via immersive digital arts and informative educational zones.

Click here for OASIS immersion schedules and tickets.

 

The Little Prince

 

 

Presented for the first time in North America, The Little Prince Among Men exhibition explores the wonderful world of the Little Prince and the fascinating life story of writer, poet and aviator Antoine de Saint Exupéry, at Place Bonaventure from May 1 to June 30.

 

The Musée d'Art Contemporain (MAC) at Place Ville Marie

At the MAC, des Dieux, et des Monstres (of Gods, of Monsters) is a 3D rendered collage by Montréal-based artist Mara Eagle. This sprawling mural portrays a seascape featuring a lively cast of semi-divine humanoids and monsters leisurely floating in an oceanic reverie. Runs from April 11 to September 15.

Also at the MAC, the ecology-themed group exhibition femmes volcans forêts torrents at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – widely known as The MAC (or “Le MAC” in French) – features the work of nine women artists currently living in Québec: asinnajaq, Jacynthe Carrier, Maria Ezcurra, Caroline Gagné, Anahita Norouzi, Nelly-Eve Rajotte, Sabrina Ratté, Sonia Robertson and Malena Szlam. Runs from April 11 to August 18.

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

Click here for tickets and directions.

 

Montréal today and yesterday

 

 

As part of the Contemporary Native Art Biennial, the McCord Stewart Museum in the Golden Square Mile presents Presence of the Past by Kanien’kehà:ka artist MC Snow whose installation immerses the viewer in a space with 40 objects he chose from the museum’s Indigenous Cultures collection, as well as contemporary works, from which he drew inspiration to create two original sculptures at the centre of the exhibition. Runs to August 18.

Known as one of the pillars of 20th-century fashion photography, Norman Parkinson is the subject of the comprehensive exhibition Norman Parkinson: Always in Style which presents 79 of his best-known images. This North American premiere runs from April 19 to September 2.

The complementary exhibition Portraits and Fashion – Quebec Photographers Beyond Borders brings together prints by 17 photographers who are shining a spotlight on Quebec talent on the international stage. In addition to their fashion photographs, the exhibition presents a gallery of 100 portraits of such icons as Céline Dion, U2, Nelson Mandela, Zidane, Mika and Adele. The exhibition catalogue is published by the McCord Stewart Museum and BT Publishers. Runs from May 31 to September 29.

 

 

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

 

The art of architecture

 

 

The Canadian Centre for Architecture in Shaughnessy Village 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.” 

The Lives of Documents—Photography as Project is the first of a trilogy of research and exhibition projects produced by the CCA on the medium of photography—between work of art, research tool, and document—as a means to investigate the built environment. Runs to April 7.

Argentinian architect Amancio Williams—a key figure in modern architecture in South America—is the subject of the exhibition Domestic Monument: Amancio Williams selected by Pezo von Ellrichshausen which runs to May 12.

Visibly Iroquoian is an installation by interdisciplinary performing artist Ange Loft which runs to September 2024.

The exhibition madskills: Self Documenting Construction on Social Media investigates popular social media clips documenting construction work by those present on site. Runs from June 6 to October 24.

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 presents the immersive exhibition Riopelle - A Bird Wild and Free which focuses on the final period of artist Jean-Paul Riopelle’s life and work when he lived in L’Isle-aux-Grues on the St. Lawrence River. Discover the majestic landscapes and the flights of white geese that inspired Riopelle, and catch a glimpse of his studio. Runs to May 12.

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 30-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 Montréal Science Centre in the Old Port of Montréal presents the outdoor Techno Garden where visitors discover how technology can support urban agriculture. Runs from June 1 to September 29.

A North American premiere, the all-new feature exhibition Banquet is an immersive experience that will transform visitors into apprentice cooks. Learn how science is baked right into gastronomy and the culinary arts by exploring five exhibition zones: The Kitchen, the Appetizer, the Banquet, the Show, and the Educational Workshop. Runs from May 16, 2024, to March 16, 2025.

 

 

The children-friendly permanent exhibitions at the Montréal Science Centre are all open, while its IMAX cinema screens films for all ages, including Wings Over Water 3D and Animal Kingdom 3D: A Tale of Six Families. 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 Ramezayin Old Montréal 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 American revolution. 

The museum also currently presents two temporary exhibitions, Traces and Memories of the Seigneurial System in Quebec and Seigneurs of Montreal: The Sulpician Priests, which retrace the seigneurial system from the early days of French colonization in North America in the 17th century.

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

 

Our Lady of the Harbour

 

 

Visitors are transported back through time at the Marguerite Bourgeoys Historic Sitewhich 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.  

Until May 14, the historic site is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. 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 exhibition

 

 

Created by the Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal to mark the bicentennial year of the birth of Mount Royal Park’s creator, famed American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), the temporary exhibition Our Mountain: Memories of Mount Royal tells the 5,000-year-old story of Montréal’s iconic “mountain” located in the heart of the city. Runs to August 31.

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. 

Located in the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal, the museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 AM to 12 PM and from 1 PM to 5 PM, and weekends from 10 am to 5 pm.

 

Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal

 

Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal is a cutting-edge art centre located in the hip, urban Griffintown neighbourhood, and promotes and develops contemporary Canadian art by exhibiting local artists.

The ongoing Chimeria exhibition brings together the work of four international artists: Michael Dean, Hannah Epstein, Matthew Hansel and Allison Zuckerman. 

 

 

 

Immersive Disney Animation is an innovative celebration that takes children of all ages inside the greatest films of Walt Disney Animation Studios, from their very earliest, groundbreaking features to their hit movies of today. Shows are given in French or English, depending on the time slot selected at the box office. Has been extended to May 5.

 

Écomusée du fier monde

 

 

Dedicated to exploring the history of Montréal’s working class, the Écomusée du fier monde presents the temporary exhibition Variations sur l’art d’ici featuring the  inks, paintings, engravings of more than 60 Québécois and Canadian artists from April 24 to May 5.The 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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