With a fundraising target of $2.5M, this award-winning museum positions art as business, education, and therapy

Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts attracted over a million visitors last year, and with good reason. Its combination of innovative exhibitions and deep cultural archives uplift and inspire visitors, as this photo essay shows.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 360 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Downtown Montreal is host to an amazing range of art galleries and museums – see our coverage of exhibitions at McCord Museum, La Guilde, and Museum of Contemporary Arts. Founded in 1860, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) began as the Art Association of Montreal.

MMFA has collected more than 43,000 works over the years, featuring paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photographs and decorative art objects. The artworks are displayed in special themed pavilions for international art, world cultures, decorative arts and design, and Canadian art.

MMFA describes itself as “innovative, daring, resourceful and proactive,” promoting inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural dialogue. It regards itself as a “humanist museum,” beyond the label of “specialist museum.”

Current and archived exhibits can be explored together to come up with multiple views of creativity across the ages, and explore subjects related to symbolisms, diversity, social roles, and peace. With over a million visitors in 2018, MMFA is now the fifteenth-most visited museum in North America.

MMFA’s current exhibitions feature the works of French haute couturist Thierry Mugler, who was also a director, photographer and perfumer. The lineup includes more than 150 garments made between 1977 and 2014, many of which are being shown to the public for the first time. Thierry’s works have been featured in leading Shakespeare plays, Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity production, and by a range of top musicians and celebrities.

The museum also offers a space with interactive exhibits and materials for visitors to fashion professions such as embroidery, lace-making, felting, leather-making, dyeing, weaving, and knitting. Workshops are conducted on topics such as design and art education for a full spectrum of audiences.

MMFA has an ambitious target of raising $2.5 million this year through innovative schemes such as philanthropist circles, including youth, investors and women of influence. The 58th edition of the Museum Ball raised over $1.5 million for the Museum.

Museum director Nathalie Bondil joins us in an interview in Part III of this photo essay, on the role of art as education and therapy and the importance for museums to benchmark themselves with the best in the world. She regards museums as laboratories of innovation that play a key role in individual wellness as well as inter-culturalism (see earlier interview here).

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and immerse yourself in the uplifting power of art?

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

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