• The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
    History of the MMFA: 1860-2016
    156 years of history

Founding (1860-1910)


Establishment of the Art Association of Montreal (first museum in Canada) to “encourage the appreciation of fine arts among the people of the city”.


Opening of the first Gallery in Phillips Square, Montreal.

Raison d’être (1910-1950)


Relocation of the Art Gallery to a new building on Sherbrooke Street (current Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion).


Creation of the department of decorative arts and traditional arts, establishing the Museum’s collection as encyclopedic.

Identity (1950-1970)


The Art Association adopts the name “The
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.”


Celebration of the centennial and democratization of art, including first support from benefactors in the French-speaking community


Creation of the Education Department.

Democratization (1970-1990)


Change to the Museum’s status from a private institution to a mixed non-profit corporation.


Opening of a second pavilion (Liliane and David M. Stewart).


Milestone in the Museum’s history, with unusual exhibitions such as Tintin (1980) and Leonardo da Vinci (1987) attracting new audiences.

Opening up to the world and multidisciplinary approach (1990-2010)


Opening of third pavilion (current Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion).


Creation of the MMFA Foundation to raise private funds and ensure long-term funding through capitalized donations.


Installation of the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts (founded by Liliane and David M. Stewart in 1979) in residence at the Museum; merger with the MMFA in 2000.


Arte Musica Foundation takes up residence at the Museum.

Exceptional growth


Opening of fourth pavilion (Claire and Marc Bourgie)
and Bourgie Concert Hall; major reinstallation of 4,000 works in the Museum’s four pavilion.


Creation of Studios Arts & Education Michel de La Chenelière, doubling the facilities for educational activities.


+1 million visitors , 107 000 members and 300,000 participants in educational, cultural and community activities.

An engaged and humanist museum (2016-2020)

The Pavilion for Peace, the Museum’s fifth building, will house 700 works of international art, from Old Masters to the modern day, including the Hornstein donation.

Expansion of areas for family, educational and community activities; addition of art therapy programmes.

Reinstallation of 2,500 works in world cultures, decorative arts and design in the other pavilions.