When I learned last year that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offered a musical audioguide, I believe I actually scoffed.
A musical audioguide seemed like taking what can be a stereotypically unsexy museum offering and making it even more unattractive. I don’t know exactly what was expecting, perhaps being subjected to fuzzy elevator music as I walked around the museum with a clunky audioguide pressed up to my ear.
It took me almost a year of visiting the Museum before I decided, very skeptically, to give the musical audioguide a try. With what felt like a lot of courage, I picked up one of the free audioguides charging in a case by the entrance to the Medieval European art. I wanted my hands free, so I plugged in my own headphones into the device (one of my favorite audioguide hacks) and hung it around my neck.
And, what do you know, the musical audioguide is an absolute delight. At each commented artwork, you have the choice to dive straight into the music, or to listen to a thoughtful commentary about how the music was chosen and how it relates to the artwork. The musical selections enhanced my appreciation of the artworks; it felt like the artworks came alive in a different way, as my sense of hearing was engaged in a visual experience.
The audioguide has content for three floors of art: Europe's Middle Ages to the Belle Époque, the Napoléon gallery, and the modern art collection. There are over fifty musical selections, too much for one visit, which gave me the freedom to wander through the galleries and stop only at the artworks that intrigued me. It was like a scavenger hunt as I sought out the artworks in each gallery accompanied by a number under a musical note.
On a negative note, the audio content is theoretically available in a free app, but I wasn't able to make it work on my phone.
The audioguide was developed by the Museum in 2012 with the support of the Arte Musica Foundation.
Address: 1380 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal ∣ Métro: Station Peel or Station Guy-Concordia (Green Line) ∣ Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, major exhibition open until 9pm on Wednesday