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Museum archives and acquisitions

The Archives Department has been a core part of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ operations since its very founding, in 1860. Its primary role as registrar is to manage the Museum’s permanent collection and monitor the artwork acquisition process. Archives is also responsible for processing, storing and disseminating all physical or electronic records that retrace the MMFA’s rich history and for ensuring the smooth running of the institution.

Roles

Preserving and enhancing:

  • The MMFA’s collection of artworks
  • Documentation on the works in the collection
  • The institution’s archives
  • Private archives

Services

Consultation room

Documentation on works in the Museum’s collection and the Museum’s archives may be consulted on site, in the Archives Department.

Artwork acquisitions

The MMFA is not a government-run museum and must generate 99% of its financing for its acquisitions.

However, thanks to generous artwork and monetary donations, the MMFA is able to pursue its mission of preserving, conserving and sharing some 45,000 works in its encyclopedic collection – the only one of its kind in Quebec, and among the largest in Canada.

If you are interested in giving an artwork to the MMFA, please present your offer in writing, along with photographs of the work and supporting documentation.

A tax receipt stating the fair market value of the work, determined in some cases by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, will be issued to the donor whose work has been accepted as a gift by the MMFA. For more information on donations of artworks or funds to an acquisition fund, please contact:

Alexandra Derome
Artwork Acquisitions Manager
514-285-1600, ext.285
aderome@mbamtl.org

Interinstitutional artwork loans

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts loans works in its permanent collection to other museum institutions under certain conditions.

For more information on artwork loans:

Marianne Raymond
Loans and Acquisitions Technician
514-285-1600 ext. 145
marianner@mbamtl.org

The borrowing institution must provide the following information:
  • Name and contact information of the borrowing institution
  • Name and contact information of the contact person at the borrowing museum
  • Information pertaining to the borrowing institution’s exhibition, such as the title, location and presentation dates of the exhibition
  • Start and end date of the loan
  • Title(s) of the requested work(s), including artist name(s).
Below is a non-exhaustive list of our lending criteria:
  • Availability of the requested work(s)
  • Requested timeline for delivery
  • The state of preservation of the requested work(s)
  • The presentation conditions in the galleries of the borrowing institution
Administrative fees apply
  • 1 to 5 works: $100
  • 6 to 10 works: $250
  • More than 10 works: $500

Resources

The Museum’s collection

For more information on all the works in the collection, see the Canadian Heritage Information Network.

A selection of works in the Museum’s collection is accessible on our website.

Description of archival materials on the MMFA’s exhibitions

To access a description of archival materials on the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibitions from 1860 to 1987, visit the website of the Réseau de diffusion des archives du Québec website.This site It also provides descriptions of a number of private archives held at the Museum.

Press clippings

From its founding until the early 1970s, the Museum assembled scrapbooks of press clippings and other documentation relating to its acquisitions, exhibitions and activities. These scrapbooks provide a vivid account of Montreal’s cultural life and art scene during those years. The scrapbooks from 1864 to 1962 have been digitized.

Provenance research

To facilitate the location of artworks spoliated during World War II, the Museum maintains an up-to-date register of all works with incomplete provenance records for the years 1933 to 1945. Bronze sculptures cast in large unnumbered editions have been withdrawn from the list.

Access the registerAccess the register
Archives -2-archives-5
Past exhibitions

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

  • Travelling exhibitions from 1975 to 1995
    On the eve of its expansion in 1976, the Museum created a department dedicated to circulating its exhibitions. The Distribution Department was established in 1975 and would organize over 30 exhibitions, each with more than 10 presentations. It ceased its activities in 1995, when the federal funding program for travelling exhibitions was cut. The MMFA’s exhibitions would continue to tour by means of partnerships.

  • Exhibitions since 1860
    The Art Association of Montreal, as the Museum was formerly called, was founded in 1860 with a view to presenting exhibitions and building a permanent collection. The earliest exhibitions centred primarily on loans granted by Montreal’s major art collectors. These were followed by the first interinstitutional collaborations.

Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts

Exhibitions from 1980 to 2001
In 1979, the David M. Stewart Foundation inaugurated the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts in the Château Dufresne. As the first-ever cultural institution in Canada to be dedicated exclusively to 20th-century decorative arts, it was a pioneer. Across the two decades of its existence, the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts presented over 100 exhibitions and acquired some 5,000 objects for its collection. Ultimately, it outgrew the square-footage of the Château Dufresne, prompting the institution to move in to the galleries of the MMFA’s Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion in 1994. Later, in 2000, Liliane M. Stewart transferred ownership of the Decorative Arts’ Museum’s collection to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Many objects from this collection are currently displayed in the MMFA’s decorative arts galleries.

Musée Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Exhibitions from 1984 to 2007
In 1974, the Fondation Marc-Aurèle Fortin was founded on the initiative of, among others, René Buisson, the biographer of the great Quebec artist. Through the efforts of the foundation, the Musée Marc-Aurèle Fortin opened its doors in 1984, on Saint-Pierre Street in Old Montreal. The institution, whose permanent collection included over 100 works by Fortin, organized numerous exhibitions and funded research on the artist. To ensure the longevity and promotion of Fortin’s work, the museum closed its doors and transferred ownership of its collection to the MMFA in February 2007.

The Archives and Library section on this site is funded by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications as part of the implementation of Measure 41 of Quebec’s Plan culturel numérique and by the Ville de Montréal under the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal.

The Documentary Resources section on this site is funded by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec as part of the implementation of Measure 41 of and by the Ville de Montréal under the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal.

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