The Multi-Directional Hybrid Testing System (MDHTS) at Polytechnique Montreal is an advanced structural testing system that can be used to study the response of large-scale structural components such as columns, walls, or bridge piers subjected to any combination of displacements and forces along 6 degrees of freedom in static, quasi-static cyclic, pseudo-dynamic, or hybrid tests. This paper describes the main features, components and capacity of the MDHTS used for the seismic testing of steel I-shaped columns. Results of 3D finite element analysis performed to develop the test program and validate the test setup are presented. Three examples of tests on steel columns for concentrically braced frames (CBFs) and moment-resisting frames under seismic and multi-directional cyclic loadings are described. Furthermore, the hybrid simulation system is described and challenges faced when testing specimen exhibiting limited capacity are discussed. The MDTHS is an effective experimental tool to generate reliable data on steel column limit states under inelastic cyclic demands including any combination of local and global geometric instabilities with fixed and flexible boundary conditions.