Montreal Museums Day, next scheduled for May 28, 2017, proposes free admission to most of Montreal's museum network, a tradition upheld since 1987.*
The day-long event marks the May 18th celebration of International Museums Day, 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."
In 2017, Montreal Museums Day is on Sunday, May 28 and is expected to feature over 40 participating museums as it did in 2017. Free shuttle buses traveling between museums are typically made available to the public the day of the event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Details for the 2018 edition will be confirmed as we close in on the date.
Overall, Montreal Museums Day is a popular cultural event attracting roughly 100,000 people every year who want to explore the city's museum network free of charge over the course of a day.
Most Montreal museums participate in Museums Day, including:
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Montreal Biodome
- Montreal Planetarium
- Montreal Science Centre
- Pointe-à-Callière 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 & Special Events
Previous editions involved meeting with Holocaust survivors, food tastings and even art workshops and science experiments. In 2017, select participating museums offer 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 route, 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 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 (map). The public can also use the STM network and BIXI with regular prices in effect.
Plan Ahead: 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 Lineups
If you plan on taking advantage of the free bus shuttles and also want to avoid losing part of your day waiting in long lineups, avoid the central departure location, in this case, Quartier des Spectacles' Promenade des artistes. Instead, plan the beginning of your day at the first museum stop of a given route where bus lineups are generally shorter.
Visit the Montreal Museums Day website for a complete list of participating museums, museum routes and activities.
*It's not entirely clear if 1987 was, in fact, Montreal Museums Day's debut year. The Board of Montreal Museum Directors published a report in 2005 stating the event's debut year was 1986, leading to some confusion.