Montreal Museums Day is the one day a year you can walk through the doors of most of the museums in Montreal's large collection for free, a tradition in this Quebec city since the 1980s. The celebration usually falls in late May but due to closure and safety precautions in Montreal, this year's event has been canceled.
Late May in Montreal is generally mild and often sunny, with temperatures reaching into the mid-60s to around 70 degrees F. That makes it just a perfect spring day for strolling around the city taking in all the discoveries the museums open to all on Montreal Museums Day have to offer.
Montreal Museums Day will feature 30 participating museums in 2020, and you can take free shuttles buses between the museums all day long.
The day-long event marks the celebration of International Museums Day (May 18) a 1977 UNESCO-International Council of Museums initiative revolving around the motto that "museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures, and development of mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples." Montreal Museums Day is a favorite cultural event among the locals that attracts about 100,000 people every year who want to explore the city's museum network free of charge throughout a day.
Most Montreal museums take part in Museums Day. They include:
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Montreal Biodome
- Montreal Planetarium
- Montreal Science Centre
- Pointe-a-Calliere History and Archaeology Museum
- St. Joseph Oratory Museum
- The Biosphere
- Stewart Military History Museum
- Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
- Redpath Natural History Museum
- McCord History Museum
- Canadian Centre for Architecture
Free Features and Special Events
Previous editions included meeting with Holocaust survivors, food tastings and even art workshops and science experiments. In 2020, select participating museums are offering special activities in addition to free access to temporary and permanent exhibits.
Free Shuttle Buses and Museum Routes
Every year, five or more museum routes are set up for the public's convenience. Free shuttle service is available for each way, with buses leaving the same central terminal location every 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the route and depending on the year (time delays fluctuate from year to year).
The free shuttle bus central departure location is near Place-des-Arts Metro's Jeanne-Mance exit, on the edge of Quartier des Spectacles' Promenade des Artistes at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and de Maisonneuve. The public can also use the STM network and BIXI with regular prices in effect.
Pick Two Circuits Max, But Not More
Chances are you won't be able to visit all participating museums so consider picking your top two favorite museum circuits ahead of time or create your own museum circuit.
Beat the Long Lines
If you plan on taking advantage of the free shuttles and also want to avoid losing part of your day waiting in long lines, avoid the central departure location. Instead, plan the beginning of your day at the first museum stop of a given route where bus lines are generally shorter.