Place des arts Montreal Metro Mosaika_Untapped Cities_Lea Plourde-Archer

Mosaika Art & Design, Ceramic mosaic, 2005, Place des arts metro station (Green line)

It is an art gallery visited by millions each year, yet only a few people actually take the time to look at the art that adorns its walls. Like the New York City transit system, the Montreal subway system is full of commissioned art work. Each of the 68 stations is decorated in a unique manner and numerous works of art are integrated on the subway platforms, staircases and crossing points.

The first stations of the Montreal metro were built in 1966, during Jean Drapeau’s tenure as mayor. A man of many projects (the 1967 World fair, the 1976 Olympics), Jean Drapeau wanted to make Montreal a cultural capital worthy of being named along the likes of Rome, Paris or Milan. With his colleague Robert Lapalme, he planned for each of the subway’s stations to include works of art that would recall the city’s history. Some of Quebec’s most renowned artists of that era were called upon to illustrate various scenes such as the history of music in Montreal or life in the 19th century.

In the beginning, art in the Montreal subway was financed by patrons and private sponsors. When the subsequent stretches of the subway system were built, the cost of including public art was calculated in the stations’ construction budgets. Only a few of the works of art in metro stations have followed Lapalme and Drapeau’s initial plan. Today, the art that is on display in this giant underground art gallery is varied in form and in subject.

In no particular order, here is a list of interesting art installations to discover throughout Montreal’s subway system:

Lasalle metro Montreal_Peter Gnass_Untapped Cities_Lea Plourde-Archer

Peter Gnass, Mural sculpture, 1978, Lasalle metro station (Green line)

Charlevoix montreal metro Mario Merola_Untapped Cities_Lea Plourde-Archer

Mario Merola and Pierre Osterath, Octavie, 1978, Charlevoix metro station (Green line)

Namur Montreal metro_Pierre Granche_Untapped Cities_Lea Plourde-Archer

Pierre Granche, Système, 1979-82, Namur metro station (Orange line)

André Léonard, Large relief, 1980, Université de Montréal station (Blue line)

André Léonard, Large relief, 1980, Université de Montréal station (Blue line)

Montmorency Montreal metro Helene Rochette_Montreal_Untapped Cities

Hélène Rochette, Les fluides, 2007, Montmorency metro station (Orange line)

 Jean Mercier, Murals, 1986, Acadie station (Blue line)

Jean Mercier, Murals, 1986, Acadie station (Blue line)

Fabre Montreal metro art Jean-Noel Poliquin_Montreal_Untapped Cities_Lea Plourde-Archer

Jean-Noel Poliquin, Murals and sculptural handrail, 1983, Fabre station (Blue line)

Claire Sarasin montreal metro parc_Untapped Cities_Lea Plourde-Archer

Claire Sarrasin, Métamorphose d’icare, 1987, Parc station (Blue line)

Yves Roy, Mural, 1978, Lionel-Groulx station (Green and Orange lines)

Yves Roy, Mural, 1978, Lionel-Groulx station (Green and Orange lines)

For a full list of the artworks on display in the Montreal metro system, check out the STM’s website.


  1. Mance Bacon says:

    La plus belle installation dans le métro de Montréal et une des plus anciennes est sans nul doute les vitraux de Marcelle Ferron du Champs de Mars. Il faut visiter cette station (intérieur et extérieur) par jour gris ou par jour ensoleillé pour en admirer toute la beauté. C’est une oeuvre monumentale donne vie et couleurs à la station jusque sur les rails et ainsi qu’à son son environnement extérieur. Ce qui n’est pas le cas des autres installations.

    Mance Bacon, Montréal

    • Léa Plourde-Archer says:

      Je suis absolument d’accord que le vitrail de Marcelle Ferron est magnifique. J’ai choisi de n’inclure que 10 oeuvres dans mon article et j’y présente mes préférées. Le choix fut ardu car il y a beaucoup d’installations superbes selon moi (même si certaines ne sont pas bien mises en valeur).
      Merci du commentaire!

  2. Léa Plourde-Archer says:

    I love that one too! Choosing just ten was quite a challenge!
    Thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. Marie Mira says:

    You forgot my favorite one: Marcelle Ferron’s stain glass at Champ de Mars!

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