The definition of museum and ecomuseum collections

William J. Kerr, milkman, in Run de lait exhibition, 2010. Photo: Julie Landreville, Écomusée du fier monde
William J. Kerr, milkman, in Run de lait exhibition, 2010.
Photo: Julie Landreville, Écomusée du fier monde

The Écomusée du fier monde distinguishes itself from other museum institutions in a number of ways, including its approach to collecting. Its collections are divided into two main groups: the museum collection and the “ecomuseum collection.”

The museum collection corresponds to a classic collection composed of objects and documents acquired and conserved by the institution under suitable conditions. It is made up of material elements that bare witness to the history of the neighbourhood, the history of labour and industry, and/or working class culture.

However, the priority of the Écomusée du fier monde is to address a heritage that is grander than the objects it owns. It is with this in mind that in 2011 it established an ecomuseum collection policy founded on three principles:

  • the responsibility to heritage of the Écomusée du fier monde;
  • the participation of citizens;
  • the communication of this heritage.

This in-progress collection is made up of heritage elements – material and immaterial – that hold particular significance for the community. It can be a building, a house, a work in situ, a park, or even an event, a person or a tradition. The pieces of this collection speak to the three fields of interest of the Écomusée:

  • a geographical territory, the Centre-Sud in Montréal;
  • themes of labour, industry and working class culture;
  • a social framework organized around contemporary issues that affect the territory and reflect the theme.
<b>Surroundings of the Jacques-Cartier bridge, 2011.</b> Photo: Julie Landreville, Écomusée du fier monde
Surroundings of the Jacques-Cartier bridge, 2011.
Photo: Julie Landreville, Écomusée du fier monde

 Rather than acquisition, it is a process of designation that allows for a piece or an element to enter into the collection. This designation is made by the collections committee of the Écomusée. The designation process also implicates a neighbourhood partner (or partners), who may, for example, own the designated element.

The designated element is then recorded in the ecomuseum collections catalogue and can become the focus of various activities conducted by the Écomusée du fier monde in conjunction with its partners. Actions that document, promote and diffuse knowledge are conducted with the ultimate goal of ensuring that these heritage elements are passed on to future generations.

The Écomusée thus hopes to mobilize the community and encourage citizens to take charge of their heritage.