Marooned on the island, Montreal natives and castaways alike often find themselves seized by creative impulses. Those recently washed ashore can appreciate the city’s vibrant collection of paintings, photos, and installation pieces at the following spots across town.
Editors’ Pick: Belgo Building
372 Ste. Catherine O.
Belgo is an inconspicuous office building on Ste. Cat’s, about a block from the Musée d’Art Contemporain, but inside is a whole ‘nother story. Home to more private galleries than you can count on your hands, Belgo is surprisingly open to having non-buyers visit. Some notable favourites are Skol and Optica. Make sure to check gallery times though, their schedules mostly work on some art world logic that we’re not in on just yet.
279 Sherbrooke O.
So conveniently close to McGill, Gora exhibits a variety of contemporary art forms, from painting to photography to video and installation. Stop by the second floor gallery for a good starting point on your artistic tour of Montreal.
The biggies are the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Musée d’Art Contemporain. The former has an extensive – and free – permanent collection, though its more pricey visiting shows tend to over shadow it. The MAC is free on Wednesday nights, while the Beaux Arts is half price. What are you waiting for?
3550 St. Antoine O.
Though the grandeur of the space has the potential to overwhelm the artworks, Parisian Laundry’s artistic director Jeanie Riddle has struck a balance between the two. The space boasts three levels – including “the bunker” – and showcases mostly large, cutting-edge artworks from hot artists. The walk from the Atwater Metro is worth it. Plus, you can explore St. Henri while you’re in the ‘hood.
5490 St. Laurent
Le Cagibi is one of Montreal’s most beloved cafés, located in an old pharmacy and crammed with mismatched vintage furniture. Adding to its charm is the constantly rotating display of local art adorning the walls of the back room.
La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse
4296 St. Laurent
Created in 1973 as female-friendly space for the “[discussion of] the difficulties related to exhibiting their work in a professional context,” this gallery often boasts some of the art scene’s most daring exhibitions.
1395 Rene-Levesque O.
Concordia’s mostly undergrad, student-run visual arts display. It’s the gallery McGill students wish we had.