Montclair was first formed as a Township on April 15, 1868, from portions of Bloomfield Township, so that a railroad could be built to Montclair. After a referendum held on February 21, 1894, Montclair was reincorporated as a Town, effective February 24, 1894. In the late 1970s, after protesting for years at the inequities built into the formulas, Montclair joined several other communities to qualify for a pool of federal aid allocated only to Townships, that allowed townships to receive as much as double the revenue-sharing aid per capita received by the four other types of New Jersey municipalities — Borough, City, Town or Village.
Montclair hosts many art institutions and theaters, and despite its relatively small size, has many art venues. It has its own art museum, the Montclair Art Museum and several small galleries.
Montclair also hosts two theaters that showcase movies and films, both originally live theaters, having been later converted. Clear view Cinemas has two locations in Montclair, the Bellevue Theater located in Upper Montclair and the Clairidge Cinema, located on Bloomfield Avenue. While the Bellevue Cinema mostly shows main-stream Hollywood films, the Clairidge Cinema shows different types of movies from documentaries to small scale indie films. The township hosted its first annual film festival in 2012 to provide a platform for filmmakers from New Jersey, US and the world.