Montréal exhibitions in winter and spring 2020

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.

Ancient Egyptian mummies, Inca treasures and the prêt-à-porter of Canadian fashion designer Jean-Claude Poitras are among the many must-see exhibitions at Montréal museums in winter and spring 2020.

Nocturnal worlds

The Stewart Museum’s Nights exhibition takes visitors into four night worlds via original stories by four well-known Québec writers: Heather O’Neill, Simon Boulerice, Dominique Demers and Éric Dupont. Guided by a booklet and listening stations, visitors explore Dupont’s starry night, face the fear of the dark with Demers, experience a city night with O’Neill and slip into a night of passion with Boulerice. Their stories are brought to life in theatrical sets alongside artefacts from the Stewart and McCord Museum collections. The exhibition runs until March 7.

The sands of time

The travelling British Museum exhibition Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts reconstructs the lives of six Egyptians who lived along the Nile from about 900 BC to AD 180. In addition to the mummies, the exhibition combines art and cutting-edge technology with more than 200 items from the British Museum’s renowned Egyptian collection. It runs until March 29.

Rembrandt to Mapplethorpe

The MMFA exhibition "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you" draws its title from Walt Whitman’s celebrated 1881 poem Song of Myself, and displays more than 100 paintings, photographs, sculptures and works on paper from different time periods and cultures, all from the extraordinary art collection of renowned Ontario art collector and patron W. Bruce C. Bailey. Some of the artists included in this exceptional exhibition are Francisco José de Goya, Rembrandt, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe and Kent Monkman. The exhibition runs until March 29.

Architecture of the Cold War

The new Canadian Centre for Architecture exhibition Building a new New World: Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture explores the paradoxical bilateral relationship between Russia and the United States during the 20th century when Soviet history was “shaped by a set of idealized representations of the politics, technology, territorial developments, architecture and visual culture of America.”

The exhibition rewrites “the history of Russian architecture and urban design in light of this enduring amerikanizm by analyzing, among others, high-rise buildings, including of the late Stalinist era, factories and industrial infrastructure, and Cold War product design.” It runs until April 5.

Splendour of the Incas

Discover one of the world’s great and mysterious civilizations in the blockbuster The Incas, Treasures of Peru exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. While their domination lasted less than a century (from 1450 to 1532), the Incas built one of the most spectacular empires the world has known, spreading from Ecuador to Peru, Bolivia and half of present-day Chile. This exhibition explores the world of the Incas and Andean culture – mainly that of Peru – from prehistory to the contemporary era and features nearly 300 pieces including eye-popping gold and silver work, ornaments, jewelry, vases, clothing, funerary masks and ritual objects. It runs until April 13.

Montréal prêt-à-porter

Legendary Montréal fashion designer Jean-Claude Poitras – who left his mark on prêt-à-porter over the course of a prolific career that began in 1972 – gets the career retrospective treatment in the Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and inspiration exhibition at the McCord Museum, which runs until April 26.

Relive the 1980s

The Painting Nature with a Mirror exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (called “the MAC” by locals) explores 1980s painting in Canada and traces recent parallel developments in painting. The exhibition draws its title from a painting by Alberta-based artist Ron Moppett, which is on display alongside works by such renowned Canadian painters as Betty Goodwin, Robert Houle and others. The paintings are drawn from the MAC collection, some on display for the first time since they were acquired. The exhibition runs from December 17 to March 15.

Monet to Picasso

The MMFA exhibition Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants revisits 19th- and 20th-century Paris by showcasing the works of great Post-Impressionist masters, with particular emphasis on French Neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac, co-founder of the Salon des Indépendants. This exhibition features some 500 works by such artists as Monet, Gauguin, Degas, Lautrec and Picasso. It runs from March 28 to September 27.


Montréal has become the circus capital of the world, and the city’s famed circus companies are the subject of the comprehensive Circus! exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière. The history of the circus arts in Montréal are explored via interactive activities, stunning set designs and a magical sound and light scape showcasing more than 350 objects – spectacular costumes, set pieces, works of art, accessories and scale models. Training and stage equipment will be displayed alongside archives, photos, video footage, and projections documenting Montréal’s continuing circus legacy. The exhibition runs May 27 to October 12.

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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