The long colonial legacy surrounding Quebec City, along with the beautiful historical architecture that characterizes many of its districts, can make it feel as though you’re walking around a life-sized, open-air museum. The city is also home to several world-class museums, galleries and cultural centres that offer further insights into the local past. Here are just some of Quebec City’s must-see museums.
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec offers a living collection of artistic heritage from Quebec, Canada, and beyond. Situated in the heart of Old Quebec, within reach of the historic Plains of Abraham. With three pavilions, the museum houses 25,000 works produced in Quebec, or by Quebec artists, many of which date from the 18th century. The permanent exhibits include one that features over 2,500 examples of Inuit art.
Musée de l’Amerique Francophone
The Musée de l’Amerique Francophone has a collection of 450,000 items, dedicated to the history of French-speaking North America. Part of the historical Québec Seminary, dating back to 1663, the collection includes numerous artworks collected by seminary priests through the past few centuries. The museum hosts exhibits about the colonial history of the Americas and the evolution of Francophone culture both in North America and abroad.
Museum of Civilization
The Musée de la Civilisation welcomes nearly 14 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited museums in Canada. There are a series of permanent and temporary exhibits, multimedia presentations, and hands-on activity stations. In addition to the annual visiting exhibits, the two permanent exhibitions tell the history of Quebec and the Aboriginal peoples that inhabited the region before European arrival.
Royal 22nd Regiment Museum (La Citadelle)
Located in La Citadelle of Quebec City, the Museum of the Royal 22nd Regiment houses a collection of weapons, uniforms, decorations and official documents from the days of New France to the arrival of the Royal 22nd Regiment in 1920. The architectural and military heritage of the Citadelle is highlighted by the original vaults of the East Casemate (the historic building in which the Museum is located) and other architectural features.
Musée du Fort
Located in front of the famous Château Frontenac, the Musée du Fort aims to raise awareness of Quebec City and its history through a unique 30-minute sound and light show that tells the story of the six sieges of Québec City—including the famous battle of the Plains of Abraham, the US invasion and Benedict Arnold’s march to Québec. Through their impressive 400 foot square model of Québec City and its outlying regions in 1750, visitors can also explore the strategic importance of this historic city.
Musée de la Place Royale
Overlooking the very spot where Quebec City was founded in 1608, the Musée de la Place Royale offers visitors the opportunity to explore the history of New France and the lives of its inhabitants over the centuries. Themed, guided visits and a 3-D film reveal interesting and surprising facts about Quebec City and the local history.
Morrin Centre is housed in Quebec City’s first prison, constructed over two centuries ago. Tours explore the dark and fascinating history of the site, which was mainly used as a military barracks but also sometimes housed prisoners of war. Through the 1740s, many British prisoners were captured and brought to Quebec, including men and women captured in raids on New England towns by the French and their Native allies. Many of them died in the cramped and unhygienic conditions of captivity. Also on the site is a beautiful Victorian library (which is the city’s only English-language library) containing around 20,000 books.