Rainy days call for indoor activities for many, at least they do for us. So on a typical fall day (and probably the whole months of October and November), we look forward to doing things that are fun and which keep us dry. And that brings us to one of our favourite museums in Montreal: Le Musée des Beaux Arts.
Located in the heart of downtown, this museum has a lot going for it. For one, its architecture is absolutely stunning; it wonderfully contrasts with the high rise glass buildings that line the neighbourhood. Second, it is LARGE – good luck visiting the whole museum in one day! Third, there is definitely something for everyone. They have activities for children, workshops for artists, mini concerts, art therapy… And of course: Paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and more. And last but definitely not least, there is a bistro-restaurant that would allow you to take a break while having a delicious meal. You’ll then be re-energized to continue your tour.
Going to this museum is a little like therapy for us. Indeed, it forces us to slow our pace, which is very different from what we usually do (both our jobs are quite fast-moving). It forces us to be silent, which can be good since we are both very chatty people otherwise. [Henry: Apparently me more than Mariam by a huge country mile 😛 ] [Mariam: Yes, yes, that’s very, very true 😛 ] And it pushes us to be introspective as we navigate through purposefully-dim lighting, all of which allows us to relax.
[Henry: Of course, sometimes you may walk away… less than relaxed. For me, that usually happens when I literally come face to face with a piece of art that was very much deliberately made to make me and spectators feel uncomfortable. David Altmejd’s The Eye is a case in point – this haunting statue stands right outside the front door of the museum, and it feels like a horde of grotesque monsters is spilling out from another dimension and into our world. I’m just posting a link to the museum’s page for the statue rather than showcasing pictures, since I actually want you to go see the statue in person and experience what I feel when I see the stature (especially at night): A visceral sense of fear. It’s powerful art that should be seen.]
[Mariam: I can’t say that art will move me in that particular way. Great art is evocative, yes, but frightening? I think you’re just a big scaredy cat 😛 . [Henry: Heyyy…] For me, what the more “disturbing” or more thoughtful pieces and exhibits do is very vividly illustrate how different some earlier periods in history could be. It’s absolutely fascinating how, despite us all being human, there can be so very many different ways people put together a society and live by distinct social rules. History books just don’t have the power to give you that feeling the way a good museum does.]
We obviously think it’s worth it to visit this museum, but we have to admit, the entrance fee is quite expensive for an adult who visits on a regular day. There are however many ways in which you can save some money. For one, if you live in Montreal, it’s worth getting the VIP pass (that’s what we have). This allows you to go anytime you want and to have access to a few added events at the museums (like the awesome concert we had access to last time we went (pictures below). You can also go on Wednesdays after 5pm since it’s half-price on that day. Note that at any given day, children under 12 do not pay 🙂 and if you are between 13 and 30 years old, you have a reduced entrance fee. Seniors (65+) also pay a reduced fee. You may also choose to go in a groups and contact the museum in advance. They give great discounts in cases like these, and may even throw in a guide for you. Oh, and it’s absolutely free for everyone going on the first Sunday of the month. Click here to see how much you would pay.
Some of our favourite exhibits at the museum:
- From Africa to Americas: Picasso (past exhibit);
- Revolution (past exhibit);
- Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives (current exhibit);
- Moving Dunes (current exhibit);
- Archaeology and World Culture (permanent collection);
- The Encyclopedic Collection (permanent collection); and
- Love is Love: Wedding Bliss for All – Jean Paul Gaultier (touring exhibit) [Henry: The moving faces projected on the mannequins in this exhibit are pretty freaky!]
We can’t wait for the next piece to shock or awe us; how about you? Any art pieces that catch your eye? Tell us in the comments!
Where you can find the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Address: 1380 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3G 1J5
Phone: (514) 285-2000