How to visit Montreal’s museums for free

I guess Canadian museums still haven’t clued into the fact that universal free entry to museums is great way attract museumgoers. In Montreal, entry to the Museum of Fine Arts costs $15.00; in Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery charges $17.50; and in Ottawa, the National Gallery of Canada entry to a special exhibition can costs $25.00 a pop.

Let’s face it; visiting museums in Canada is expensive habit. I guess this is why it isn’t a popular national past time, like watching hockey. The British believe the public shouldn’t be charged a hefty fee to visit museums. In fact, most national museums in England are entirely free. And, in Washington D.C., the museums run by the Smithsonian Institution are free all the time.

Charging money at the front door strengthens the assumption that culture is reserved for the select few: the upper middle class, artists and culture workers, who are already culture aficionados. Many museums have free days or free hours, but the regular ticket price set the austere tone for these museums. It especially discourages those who find museums a bit intimidating.

However, until museums become free, I have compiled a list of when and how to visit museums and visual culture sites around Montreal for free or almost free. Because, I believe seeing great art for free should be part of our daily lives.

P.S. I am not providing you with instruction on how to sneak into museums or galleries, with the potential of being permanently barred from these institutions; rather, I am providing the you with the hours that are free for these museums.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Wednesdays 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. $7.50
The museum collection is always free
Address: 1380 Sherbrooke Street West Montreal, Quebec  H3G 1J5

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Free admission Wednesday 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
They also have the Wired card, which gives you unlimited access for $20.00 a year. Pretty damn cheap!
Address: 185 Sainte-Catherine Ouest Montréal, Québec H2X 3X5

Canadian Centre for Architecture
Free admission Thursday 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Address: 1920, rue Baile Montréal, Québec H3H 2S6

Always free
Address: 451 & 465, St-Jean Street Montreal, Quebec H2Y 2R5

PHI Centre
Exhibitions are always free
Address: 407, rue Saint-Pierre Montréal, QC, Canada H2Y 2M3

Belgo Building
(Technically not a museum, but it has a lot of great galleries inside that are always free)
Address: 372 Sainte-Catherine Rue O  Montreal, QC

Fonderie Darling
Free admission on Thursdays
Address: 745 Ottawa Street Montréal, Quebec H3C 1R8

If you would like to know what exhibitions to see, you can consult my blog post Summer art exhibitions you don’t want to miss

All photographs © Juan Madrigal

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