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About the Museum

With over a million visitors annually, the MMFA is one of Canada and North America’s most visited museums.

Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion
Credit

1,174,680

visitors annually

illustration of the MMFA's visitors

346,952

participants in educational ans cultural activities

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts educational activities icon

107,035 Members

58,246 memberships

The Museum’s original temporary exhibitions combine various artistic disciplines—fine arts, music, film, fashion and design—and are exported around the world, while its rich encyclopedic collection, spread across five pavilions, comprises international art, world cultures, contemporary works, decorative arts and design, and Quebec and Canadian art.

The Museum has seen exceptional growth in recent years with the addition of two new pavilions: the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, in 2011, and the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, in 2016. The MMFA complex also includes Bourgie Hall, a 462-seat concert hall, as well as an auditorium and a movie theatre.

The MMFA is also one of Canada’s leading publishers of art books in French and English, which are distributed internationally. Furthermore, the Museum houses the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the largest educational complex in a North American art museum, enabling it to offer innovative educational, wellness and art therapy programs.

Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace
Credit

A bold, innovative and inclusive Museum

Through its activities and initiatives, a vibrant, engaged and multidisciplinary MMFA strives to forge ties with the public, its members and its partners.

Humanae, a monumental human mosaic by Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass
Credit
A World-Class Museum

The MMFA ranks first among Canadian art museums in its number of visitors and memberships.

1,174,680

visitors in 2019

illustration of the MMFA's visitors

1st

among Quebec’s most visited museums

2nd

in Canada

11th

in North America

60th

in the world

Canada’s oldest

art museum

18th largest

museum in North America in terms of size

5 pavilions

with a total area of over 53,095 m2

1st

in terms of membership with over 108,618 Members

346,952

participants annually in educational, cultural and wellness activities

James L.Weston, Vue de l’édifice de l’Art Association, square Phillips, à Montréal, photolithographie colorée (première page du Canadian Illustrated News, 31 mai 1879).

The story of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1860-2016, 156 years of history

1860
1910
1950
1970
1990
2010
2016
Discover 156 years of History

Founding
(1860-1910)

James L. Weston, View of Art Association Building, Phillips Square, Montreal, coloured photolithograph (cover page of Canadian Illustrated News, May 31, 1879). Purchase, Mr. and Mrs Gerald Bronfman Fund for Master Graphics, 1964.

James L. Weston, about 1815–1896, active in Canada, View of the Art Association Building, Phillips Square, Montreal, Coloured photolithograph (cover page of Canadian Illustrated News, May 31, 1879), 30.4 x 28.2 cm (sheet), 24.4 x 24 cm (image). Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Bronfman Fund for Master Graphics.

1860

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

1879

Opening of the first Art Gallery in Montreal’s Phillips Square.

Main gallery Detail of the hanging arrangement, 1879.

Notman & Sandham, The 1879 Art Gallery, Phillips Square, main gallery, detail of the hanging arrangement, 1879, albumenized paper. McCord Museum, Montreal. Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd. Inv. VIEW-1051.1. Photo McCord Museum, Montreal

Mission
(1910-1950)

Edward Maxwell, architect, 1913.

Wm. Notman & Son
Edward Maxwell, architect (detail), 1913, black and white photograph. Archives, MMFA.

Edward Maxwell, architect, 1913.

Wm. Notman & Son
Edward Maxwell, architect (detail), 1913, black and white photograph. Archives, MMFA.

1912

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

The Art Association’s new art gallery, the Sherbrooke Street facade 1913

Wm. Notman & Son, The Art Association’s new Art Gallery, Sherbrooke Street, the Sherbrooke Street facade (detail), 1913, Gelatin dry plate. McCord Museum, Montreal. Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd. Inv. VIEW-13052. Photo McCord Museum, Montreal.

1916

Creation of the department of decorative arts and traditional arts, establishing its mission as an encyclopedic museum.

Identity
(1950-1970)

historical photo of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, ladies with tour guide in front of painting

1950

The Art Association is renamed the
 Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Picasso, exhibition poster, 1964.

Picasso, exhibition poster, 1964. Archives, MMFA.

1960

Celebration of the Museum’s centennial and the democratization of art, including, for the first time, support from benefactors in the French-speaking community.

1961

Creation of an education department.

Democratization
(1970-1990)

Michal and Renata Hornstein pavilion

1972

The Museum’s status changes from a private institution to a mixed non-profit corporation.

Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, exterior view.

Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, exterior view. Photo: MMFA, Denis Farley.

1976

Opening of a second pavilion (today’s Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion).

1980

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

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

Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion

Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

1991

Opening of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, the Museum’s third.

1994

Création de la Fondation du MBAM pour recueillir des fonds privés et assurer un financement à long terme par des dons capitalisés.

Liliane and David M. Stewart, 1981-1982.

Liliane and David M. Stewart (detail), 1981–82, colour photograph. Archives, Macdonald Stewart Foundation.

1997

The Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, founded by Liliane and David M. Stewart in 1979, takes up residence at the Museum; it will merge with the MMFA in 2000.

Tiffany Studios, New York, Angel of the Resurrection, leaded-glass window

Tiffany Studios, New York, Angel of the Resurrection, leaded-glass window, about 1931, 190 x 63 cm, after a 1904 design by Frederick Wilson. Erskine and American Church, Montreal.

2008

The Arte Musica Foundation is created and takes up residence at the Museum.

Exponential expansion
(2010-2016)

Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion

Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion
Photo: MMFA / Michel Dubreuil.

2011

Opening of the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, the Museum’s fourth, as well as the inauguration of the Bourgie Concert Hall; major reinstallation of 4,000 works in the Museum’s four pavilions.

Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy

Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy
Photo © Marc Cramer

2012

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

Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy

2016

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

An engaged, humanist Museum
(2016-2020)

Inauguration of the Pavilion for Peace, the Museum’s fifth, which houses 700 works of international art, from Old Masters to modern pieces, including those of the Hornstein donation.

Expanded spaces for family, educational and community activities; addition of art therapy programs.

Reinstallation of 2,500 works from the World Cultures, Decorative Arts and Design collections in the other pavilions.

From the director

A geopoetic promenade through the Arts of One World

New Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing

The Arts of One World are to be inaugurated in the upper galleries of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, thanks to key support from Stephan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery. This new presentation involves renaming our World Cultures collection as the Arts of One World.¹ Thousands of archaeological works from ancient and traditional cultures will be exhibited in dialogue with contemporary perspectives from both near and far, taking on more complex meanings. The term Tout-Monde, or “One World,” was chosen in reference to the extremely open and far-reaching thought of poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant (1928-2011), who explained: “*I call ‘One World’ our universe as it changes and persists through our interactions

Nathalie Bondil

Rien n’est vrai, tout est vivant.
— Édouard Glissant

What are our so-called “world cultures” collections saying? They document a history of tastes that are evolving through new vantage points. Unique to Quebec, they are filled with as many treasures as imperfections. Complex, sometimes contradictory worlds, these discontinuous continents, formed over the course of acquisitions and gifts, are becoming increasingly populated with contemporary works, giving rise to different aesthetics, dialogues, collisions and encounters… How can they inhabit our spaces while saying something about our world?

The second largest in Canada,² these collections have been enriched with the help of many experts, lenders and donors, to whom we are grateful. We have also been able to study these works with our dedicated archaeology curators, backed by a network of consultants. Finally, we have strengthened our holdings of culturally diverse contemporary works created by local³ and international artists. We have worked on this several-thousand-piece puzzle of artworks – an amalgam of fragments of realities, collections that are constantly evolving and (de)constructing. Their entirety represents but a snapshot in time: everything shifts, nothing is fixed.

This installation is a humble and modest one, given the immensity of the envisaged cultural lands in relation to our limited spaces and our incomplete collections – rich in pluralities, they are yet meagre in their many silences. Neither teleological narrative nor theoretical argument, this poetic encounter proposes a meandering crisscrossing through the imaginations and traditions of our “chaos-world,” as the poet would put it. We hope to offer an experience of discovery and questioning, of opacity and inconsistency, and of elusiveness and indeterminateness. Visitors can “wander deeper into the woods”, as their gaze leads them across imperceptibly decentred objects, unexpected observations and an aesthetic of the diverse and the discursive, with as many shared inter-subjectivities.

Theo Eshetu (born in 1958), Atlas Fractured, 2017, video 18 min. © Theo Eshetu (Courtesy of the artist & Axis Gallery, New York & New Jersey)

The Arts of One World | Theo Eshetu (born in 1958), Atlas Fractured, 2017, video 18 min. © Theo Eshetu (Courtesy of the artist & Axis Gallery, New York & New Jersey)

We must change the imaginations of humanities.
— Édouard Glissant

A museum is a place that stores permanent collections that are enriched by the impermanence of our perspectives. In fact, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) is debating a new definition of museums that takes into account the decentralization of view in this multipolar century. Developing countries are modernizing not just in the material sense, as pointed out by Jean-Louis Roy: “Its intangible dimension may even be more radical, to the extent that it changes and will change relationships between all legacies, heritages and value systems of the entire world… We are now in an era when people will have to understand what does not look like them.”⁴ The cohabitation of cultures has never been brought about so rapidly, hence the necessity of thinking of the world as a whole.

Museums are a tool of cultural diplomacy. Their relevance lies not only in their collections but also in their ability to use the exhibited objects to spark reflection. “Openness to the self and to the other are two sides of the same coin. We are in a global age, an age when all humanity shares a common destiny”, wrote Edgar Morin. Like us, he is convinced that aesthetics could play a major role in understanding between human beings. He further added, “Creating unity among the human species while respecting its diversity is a basic idea but also a future-forward one.”⁵ When stereotypes, rumours and manipulations build up in the incessant social media chatter, contributing to the serenity of our society becomes part of our mission.

Welcome to a wing to give us wings, a dreamlike path where we can imagine this universopolis,⁶ overcome our differences and conceive of a global citizenship whose sole objective is to address our current issues of living together in mutual respect, achieving sustainable development and protecting life’s diversity.

Act where you live, think with the whole world.
— Édouard Glissant

Nathalie Bondil, General Director and curator, MMFA

Nathalie Bondil

General Director and curator, MMFA
  1. 1
    During a discussion with our Advisory Committee, Guadeloupe-born Montreal artist Eddy Firmin made the fortunate suggestion that we refer to the Tout-Monde concept by name, as it is in tune with our polyphonic intent. We then presented and validated this idea with Sylvie Glissant, who heads up the Institut du Tout-Monde, created in 2006 on Glissant’s initiative (http://tout-monde.com/). We extend our heartfelt thanks to them.
  2. 2
    After the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In 1916, Frederick Cleveland Morgan opened the Art Association of Montreal to non-Western arts.
  3. 3
    In addition to the exhibitions, since 2014 our Impressions artist residencies, with support from the Conseil des arts de Montréal, have been welcoming artists from immigrant backgrounds (including Karen Tam, Naghmeh Sharifi, Pansee Atta and Ari Bayuaji), as well as collaborating with the Darling Foundry (Chih-Chien Wang), Diversité Artistique Montréal and the Michaëlle Jean Foundation. For the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the MMFA also launched an ambitious program, Connections, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, to commission seven Canadian artists from culturally diverse backgrounds to create works in dialogue with our collections.
  4. 4
    Jean-Louis Roy, Bienvenue dans le siècle de la diversité – La nouvelle carte culturelle du monde (Montreal: Stanké, 2014).
  5. 5
    Edgar Morin, Sur l’esthétique (Paris: Robert Laffont, 2016).
  6. 6
    In reference to Achille Mbembe.

The museum team

The contributions of our multidisciplinary team are key to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ growth and expanding influence. We work together as a group to ensure you a bold, innovative and inclusive museum.

Staff Directory

Employees as of March 31, 2019

Agendrix, gracious supplier of the Museum’s personnel management software.

Board of Trustees

Michel de la Chenelière

Michel de la Chenelière

Chair
Alix d'Anglejan-Chatillon

Alix d’Anglejan-Chatillon

Special Secretary
Roger Fournelle

Roger Fournelle, B.A.A., LL.B.

Vice-president
Michaela Sheaf

Michaela Sheaf

Vice-President
Joe Battat

Joe Battat

Clare A Chiu

Clare A Chiu

Jonathan Deitcher

Jonathan Deitcher

Sylvie Demers

Sylvie Demers

Marcel Elefant

Marcel Elefant

Sari Hornstein

Sari Hornstein

Jean Houde

Jean Houde

L’honorable Serge Joyal, c.p., O.C.

L’honorable Serge Joyal, c.p., O.C.

G. Pierre Lapointe

G. Pierre Lapointe

René Malo

René Malo, C.Q., dr.h.c.

Stéphanie Marchand

Stéphanie Marchand

Lillian Mauer

Lillian Mauer

Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin

Jessica Pathy

Jessica Pathy, CPA auditeur, CA

Special Treasurer
Jacques Parisien

Jacques Parisien

Rémi Quirion

Rémi Quirion

Julia Reitman

Julia Reitman

2018-2019
Annual report

2018-2019 annual report
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