Pointe-à-Callière, 30 years of history... and countless memories!
Inaugurated on May 17, 1992, Pointe-à-Callière's mission is to help visitors get to know and appreciate the Montréal of yesterday and today. To mark its 30th anniversary, the Museum is taking a look back at 10 exhibitions and events that have marked the past 30 years. Were you there?
1. First exhibition, first hit
Pointe-à-Callière’s first temporary exhibition was entitled A picture book: The founding of Montreal. It honoured the city’s founders and first inhabitants, and it posed a fundamental question that remains relevant: How do we interpret history?
2. Worldwide exclusive
On June 17, 2003, Pointe-à-Callière opened its first major international exhibition—Archaeology and the Bible – From King David to the Dead Sea Scrolls. It showcased some unique items, including fragments of the first three manuscripts discovered in the Qumran Caves, near the Dead Sea—one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. The exhibition was a unique chance for Montrealers to experience a heritage collection of global significance and a golden opportunity for the museum to achieve international recognition.
3. World premiere
From December 2014 to April 2015, Pointe-à-Callière presented the world premiere of The Greeks -Agamemnon to Alexander the Great, the largest exhibition on Ancient Greece ever presented in the Americas.
4. A record-shattering exhibition
To date, Queens of Egypt remains Pointe-à-Callière’s most highly attended exhibition, attracting over 300,000 visitors between April 10 and November 4, 2018. It featured over 350 priceless objects, including monumental statues, frescoes, sarcophaguses, a mummy, funerary objects, and jewellery associated with legendary Egyptian queens such as Nefertari, Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut. The exhibition went on to tour the U.S. and Canada until 2021.
5. Recognizing Indigenous presence
Pointe-à-Callière takes pride in presenting the most up-to-date knowledge about the Indigenous presence in Montréal. In 2006, it opened the temporary exhibition St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Corn People, which introduced visitors to some 130 artifacts illustrative of the ways of life, social structures, and ceramic art of this agricultural people who introduced corn farming to the St. Lawrence Valley. This Pointe-à-Callière exhibition subsequently travelled as far away as Mexico.
6. Celebrating Saint-Laurent Boulevard
An exhibition about a Montréal street? Why not! Pointe-à-Callière presented just that in 2002 with Saint-Laurent, Montréal's “Main.” In addition to exhibiting over one hundred miscellaneous objects and photographs both old and new, the exhibition featured stories from the diverse ethnic communities who have lived, worked, or revelled on the Main over the years.
7. Multimedia shows
Ever since its opening in 1992, Pointe-à-Callière has presented a multimedia show that gives an 18-minute overview of Montréal’s history—an innovation that has given the museum international visibility. The current show, Generations MTL—the fourth iteration since the museum’s opening—takes spectators on a voyage through time to experience the city’s key moments.
8. An 18th century market
Every summer for over 25 years, Pointe-à-Callière has recreated the ambiance of Montréal’s first market on the very site it would have occupied during the French regime, just outside the museum on Place Royale. This free flagship museum event is enlivened with musicians, artisans, and merchants.
9. Youville Pumping Station
Have you ever noticed the Scottish brick building diagonally across from the museum? The Youville Pumping Station was Montréal’s first completely electrified wastewater pumping station. Built in 1915, it still contains its original motors, floodgates, pumps, and winch. Since the spring of 2022, new computer-based installations have been captivating our school-group visitors. History, heritage, and the environment—wastewater treatment has never been more fascinating!
10. A parliament under your feet!
In 2017, Pointe-à-Callière spearheaded one of the largest archaeological digs in Canada. It revealed a significant archaeological and historic site in Old Montréal—right there, under your feet: the St. Anne’s Market/Parliament of the Province of Canada site. This summer, the museum will be holding an exhibition there that’s worth a detour.
You can discover 20 other Exhibitions and Events at Pointe-à-Callière in the special anniversary publication, Pointe-à-Callière, 30 years of history... and countless memories!