10 Exhibitions to Visit in Quebec this Winter

by Paul Joseph  |  Published November 18, 2021

The predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec in eastern Canada is home to tons of museums and other cultural venues, many of which will be hosting some great exhibitions this winter.

(Photo: Renaud Philippe / Courtesy Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec)

With temperatures plummeting well below zero during much of winter, Quebec is well set up for indoor entertainment. And among the offerings available to locals and hardy visitors to the province during this period are a large number of excellent museums, galleries and cultural centres. If you’re planning to visit Quebec this winter, we’ve picked out 10 of the best exhibitions to look out for.

Wandering: A  Rohingya Story

In 2018, the exodus of the persecuted Rohingya people of Myanmar drew the attention of documentary photographer Renaud Philippe. Filmmakers Olivier Higgins and Melanie Carrier were so moved by his powerful photographs, they travelled to southeastern Bangladesh, home to a growing camp of Rohingya refugees, to better make known the crisis the world over. Designed by the duo in collaboration with Philippe himself, this multimedia exhibition comprises photos, film excerpts, soundscapes, testimonies, portraits, and dioramas that immerse visitors in the day-to-day lives of the Rohingya refugees.

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Quebec City / 20 February 2022

Naturoscope-Focus on biodiversity

(Photo: La Maison Léon-Provancher)

With climate change currently at the top of the global public agenda, the subject of biodiversity is forming a key part of the debate about how we can arrest the damage being inflicted upon planet earth. This exhibition invites visitors to discover the local biodiversity and the scientific approach through the lens of a scientist. You’ll get to learn about Léon Provancher’s work as a naturalist,  identify a specimen using the scientific method, and explore and observe the local biodiversity through the captivating universe of the adaptation of living beings to their environment. For families, there’s also a library housing a collection of children’s science books.

La Maison Léon-Provancher, Quebec City / Through January 2022

The Room From Within

This immersive exhibit-installation celebrates the legacy of the Augustinian Sisters – monastic communities of Roman Catholic women – and their legacy of benevolence and compassion. Through her use of surprising object combinations, artist Geneviève Lebel immersed herself in the memory of Le Monastère, the monastic cell where the nuns would lay exhausted, and the patient room where they would take care of others, reflecting on themes and values that are important to both her and the Augustinian Sisters: the heart, care, beauty, knowledge, life transitions, and protecting one’s legacy.

Le Monastère des Augustines, Québec City / Through 31 January 2022

Interlaced Stories: Carole Frève, Glass Artist

Acclaimed artist Carole Frève has always included two major components in her work that have helped  her stand out from the crowd: on the one hand, constant, painstaking research on the combined techniques of glass and electro-formed copper and, on the other, the story the work tells the observer. This illuminating exhibition invites visitors to come and discover, through the medium of storytelling, the evolution of her favourite themes over the span of her long and prolific 20-year artistic career.

Musée des métiers d’art du Québec, Saint-Laurent / 23 January 2022

Oh Shit!

(Photo: Museum of Civilization)

Although its name might change, reactions triggered by poop are similar for most people: disgust, denial, dread or disinterest. Nevertheless, faecal matter is part of us and our daily lives. Stools can tell a lot about our health, our eating habits, and even more about how we relate to our bodies and intimacy. Furthermore, it is also the root of sociological and environmental issues we wouldn’t even imagine. This exhibition explores all of these issues through five distinct zones designed to change the way you look and think about poop.

Museum of Civilization, Quebec City / Through 26 March 2023

Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet

The word “ecology” evokes visions of thriving ecosystems teeming with an abundant variety of species coexisting in diverse habitats. However, the term is also tainted by negative associations with an unprecedented environmental crisis that is impacting living systems. While the detrimental consequences of human activity are widespread, it is populations living symbiotically with the natural world that are often the most adversely affected. This exhibition showcases a selection of some 90 works, including installations, videos, sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs by Canadian and international artists, each presenting a unique interpretation of ecology.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal / 27 February 2022

Chapleau, Profession: Cartoonist 

(Photo: Serge Chapleau / Courtesy McCord Museum)

Explore the world of Serge Chapleau in the first major retrospective devoted to the creative work of this icon of cartooning. With his devilishly sharp strokes, Chapleau depicts the hilarious side of Quebec society, targeting politicians, celebrities and other public figures. The exhibition, which features over 150 original cartoons, sketches and illustrations, reveals unknown facets of this multidisciplinary artist. The cartoons have been selected to document the main topics, including the follies of his youth, his sources of graphic inspiration, how his drawing technique has evolved, and, of course, the various incarnations of his iconic character, Gérard D. Laflaque.

McCord Museum, Montreal / 9 January 2022

Italian Montréal

In the early 20th century, a new wave of European immigrants made its way to Québec and to Montréal. Among them were thousands of Italians who brought with them their traditions, values, and customs, going on to form one of the oldest and largest immigrant communities in Montréal. Showcasing this community’s important contribution to economic, social, and cultural life in Montréal – as well as its ingenuity, talent, and resilience – this exhibition uses projections, audiovisual material and dramatic backdrops to shine a light on the daily lives of Montréal’s earliest Italian immigrants and on the ways in which the community has evolved over the past century.

Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, Montreal / 9 January 2022

Middleground: Siting Dispossession

(Photo: Stephen Shore. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York)

Architects today must grapple with the emotionally charged and politically contested spaces – middlegrounds – that have emerged through settler colonial displacement: zoning processes based on non-Indigenous legal systems have established property, and settlement and design interventions have made land ”common.” The term “middleground” names the spaces in and practices through which architecture continues to be complicit in the dispossession of Indigenous lands. This exhibition explores everyday power dynamics that have created middlegrounds but have not often been acknowledged, and asks the question: how can architects participate in imagining more just futures for sites of dispossession?

Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal / 13 February 2022

Tell Me A Story! Youth Literature and the Holocaust

This travelling exhibition introduces the history of the Holocaust and the Second World War to children aged eight and over. Focusing on values and themes that are central to childhood, it provides a sensitive starting point for raising awareness about the dangers of racism and antisemitism. The exhibition is split into several sections and begins by introducing the Holocaust and the Second World War. Children’s experiences during the Holocaust then take centre stage through the presentation of works of youth literature that were inspired by the true stories of their characters.

Montreal Holocaust Museum, Montreal / Through winter 2021-22

(Photo:  Stéphanie Cousineau-Bourassa / Courtesy Montreal Holocaust Museum)