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Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Photograph: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Photo by Bernard Fougères and Jean-François Lejeune

10 best free museums in Montreal you need to check out

Free museums in Montreal are a great place to explore art, history, zoology and more—all without spending a dime

Isa Tousignant
Written by
Kaitlyn McInnis
Isa Tousignant

A combination rich history, a steady influx of scholars and up-and-coming artists make the free museums in Montreal the hosts to world class exhibitions and some of the best galleries around. They’re one of those free things to do in Montreal that figure among the best museums in the city. There are handfuls of great spots that offer free—or discounted—admission that’s perfect for shoestring living, date ideas and supply great things to do with kids in Montreal. Consider this your next rainy day to do list, snow day, or just a day you want to save money in the city.

Full guide to the best things to do in Montreal
Best art galleries in Montreal

Where to find the best free museums in Montreal

Musée de Lachine
Photograph: © Musée de Lachine

1. Musée de Lachine

A visit to the Musée de Lachine, or Le Ber-Le Moyne House, is well worth the commute to the suburbs. The oldest complete building in Montreal, it has been recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada since 2002. Aside from the historic architecture itself, you’ll also find an expansive archaeology collection and a sculpture garden known as the Musée plein air de Lachine.

How free is it? Always free.

Redpath Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Redpath Museum

2. Redpath Museum

Possibly one of the most underrated museums in the city, this science-and-more spot owned and operated by McGill University boasts an impressive collection of minerals from Quebec, Egyptian mummies and even a full-size Gorgosaurus libratus dinosaur skeleton. The best part? It’s pay-what-you-can.

How free is it?: Always free (but a $10 donation is suggested for adults).

Centre de design de l'UQAM
Photograph: Benoit Rousseau

3. Centre de design de l'UQAM

The Centre de design is worth a visit, not only because it’s always free, but also for the world class design exhibits which range from photography collections to interactive multimedia performances. Keep an eye on their calendar of exhibitions which changes every few months to feature different aspects of architecture, graphic design, the arts and more.

How free is it?: Always free.

Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
Photograph: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Photo by Bernard Fougères and Jean-François Lejeune

4. Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

This fine arts museum has some of the best visiting collections in Canada, but can run you over $20 per visit for a look at their exhibitions. If you can’t spare the cash, the permanent collection is just as impressive, boasting pieces from the likes of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat to Picasso and Monet, as well as a strong collection of Canadian and Québécois art. Be sure to take a walk around the museum buildings on Sherbrooke Street, which are peppered with outdoor sculptures.

How free is it?: The permanent collection is free on the first Sunday of every month, or for people aged 0-20 at all times.

McCord Stewart Museum
Photograph: Courtesy McCord Museum

5. McCord Stewart Museum

Technically, the McCord Stewart Museum’s on-paper mission is to celebrate the history and people of Montreal, but in reality, it’s a catchall for all things culture and living well. Depending on the day, visitors can expect to find morning yoga classes, Indigenous music concerts, and even film screenings alongside their permanent collections of paintings, examples of fashion, Indigenous artefacts, furniture, photography—you name it, they likely have it.

How free is it? Free every Wednesday evening (some exhibitions excepted), and the first Sunday of every month for Quebec residents; it’s also always free for members of Indigenous communities.

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Musée d'Art Contemporain

6. Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

Temporarily located in Place Ville-Marie, the MAC was founded in 1964. It’s Canada's first museum devoted to contemporary art and boasts handfuls of permanent and visiting modern exhibits and artistic expression, from digital and video installations to more traditional paintings and sculptures.

How free is it?: Free for Quebec residents on the first Sunday of every month. Always free for those aged 0-18 and for people with disabilities.

Canadian Centre for Architecture
Photograph: CCA

7. Canadian Centre for Architecture

If architecture is your thing, don’t sleep on the CCA. The international research institution aims to increase public awareness of the role of architecture in contemporary society. Expect a wide range of exhibitions and activities, including photography, blueprints, and more of fascinating proportions. Everything curated here yields an amazing discovery and highly informative exposure to different cultures.

How free is it?: Free every Thursday after 5 pm and on the first Sunday of every month. Always free for students and frontline workers.

Montreal Holocaust Museum
Photograph: © Musée de l'Holocauste Montréal / Pierre St-Jacques

8. Montreal Holocaust Museum

The Montreal Holocaust Museum walks visitors through the unfiltered story of the Jewish community during WWII through the stories and artefacts of Montreal survivors. It’s a considerably moving experience that will stick with you for a long time. Note that due to the subject matter, this museum is not suitable for kids under the age of 8.

How free is it?: Free on the first Sunday of every month.

La Guilde
Photograph: Courtesy La Guilde

9. La Guilde

Spend the afternoon appreciating handfuls of mixed media crafts from Inuit and First Nations artists over the past century, including ceramics, sculptures, paintings, and traditional garments. Conveniently located across the street from the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the small gallery is well worth the visit—plus, it’s always free.

How free is it?: Always free.

Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jake Wallace

10. Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum

The Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum whisks visitors back to the 17th century to when Montreal’s first teacher, and founder of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, Marguerite Bourgeoys lived. The 300-year old chapel includes entrance to a crypt below the city, where visitors can learn the history of the chapel and the development of Montreal’s first settlement.

How free is it?: Admission to the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is always free, however the greater museum is not.

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