Public art in Montréal


August 25, 2014 - Sculptures, fountains, stained glass and murals Montréal is a genuine open-air museum. For fans of urban art, here are a few public places worth visiting.

At the heart of downtown, on McGill College Avenue, the famous Foule illuminée (The Illuminated Crowd) by Raymond Mason is probably Montréal’s most-photographed sculpture. Still on McGill College Avenue, Le banc du secret (The Secret Bench), a bronze work by Léa Vivot, depicts a young boy whispering in a young girl’s ear. A little further away, at the corner of Peel and Sherbrooke, is La mère et l’enfant (Tenderness), a splendid marble work by Paul Lancz.

At Place Ville-Marie, you can stop to admire Female, a bronze sculpture by Gerald Gladstone. Continue strolling to the Quartier international where you’ll find Jean-Paul Riopelle’s stunning La Joute (The Joust), a sculpture-fountain encircled by a ring of fire and mist, which never fails to dazzle passersby.

On Île Sainte-Hélène, in the magnificent Parc Jean-Drapeau, don’t miss Alexander Calder’s L’Homme (Man), a magnificent 24-metre-high stainless steel sculpture. Also on the island, make sure to stop by the entrance to La Ronde amusement park to see the impressive Orbite optique no 2 (Optical Orbit No. 2, a.k.a. The Artichoke), an assemblage of concrete ovoid shapes mounted on a steel base by artist Gérald Gladstone.

Some métro stations are also home to works by well-known artists, including Fréderic Back and his splendid stained-glass mural, Histoire de la musique à Montréal, at the Place-des-Arts station or Le Vitrail, by Marcelle Ferron at the Champ-de-Mars station. Happy visiting!

To explore Montréal’s public art, pick up the map entitled, “More than 100 works of public art in Montréal - 5 tours to discover.” Free of charge, the map shows five separate circuits that visitors can embark upon to learn more about the heritage and rich cultural diversity of Montréal through its fascinating public artworks. Maps are available at the Infotouriste Centre located at 1255 Peel Street and at the Tourist Welcome Office in Old Montréal at 174, Notre-Dame Street East.