From preservation to promotion: how this museum showcases heritage and contemporary art

In this photo essay, we showcase artistic highlights from the McCord Museum in Montreal, which celebrates over a hundred years as a cultural hub.

From preservation to promotion: how this museum showcases heritage and contemporary art

Sunday August 07, 2022,

3 min Read

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 635 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

The McCord Museum, inaugurated on October 13, 1921, celebrates over a century of showcasing the life of Montreal through its communities and culture.

In addition to exhibitions, it offers educational activities and inclusive perspectives on social history. The exhibits reflect a creative blend of art, education and design. See our earlier photo essays from 2019 and 2018.

The museum’s collections include 200,000 objects and works of art, 2.15 million photographs, and 3,500 rare books. It carries on the vision of its founder, the art collector David Ross McCord.


Specific sections honour indigenous cultures, presenting them with contemporary perspectives and interpretations. The museum’s vision is to honour the city as well as reflect influences from around the world, and promote intelligent reflection within the museum and beyond.

McCord Museum has won a range of awards from the Canadian Museums Association, Canadian Architect magazine, Costume Society of America, and Grafika.

“Though one hundred years old, the Museum is more contemporary than ever,” explains Suzanne Sauvage, President and CEO of the museum.


The section Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience recognises the heritage and spirit of the Indigenous communities of Canada.

It showcases the work of 11 Indigenous nations of Quebec and promotes a deeper understanding and respect for their culture. Specific exhibits are titled Cradleboard, Snowshoes, Bandolier bag, Child’s boots, Game bag,

In the exhibition Piqutiapiit (‘precious belongings’), multidisciplinary artist Niap presents the refined objects and clothing of the Inuit lifestyle in the far north of Canada.


They showcase the creativity, ingenuity, and practicality of her ancestors. Niap’s goal is to ensure the continuity of Inuit art as well as its renewal. Her exhibition is a part of the museum’s Artist-in-Residence programme.

One of the outstanding exhibitions features the work of landscape photographer Alexander Henderson (1831-1913). Specific photos are titled Hermit Mountain, Ice Cone, The Saint Lawrence in Spring, Canoe on a Lake, and Making a Bark Canoe.

The exhibition features over 250 prints and reproductions of photographs, in addition to documents from the photographer’s personal archives.


They convey his awe of the beauty of nature, particularly winters. Henderson immigrated to Montreal from Scotland in 1855. A book on his life and works is also titled Alexander Henderson – Art and Nature.

The work of Montreal photographer JJ Levine is showcased in the section, Queer Photographs. The 52 photos portray queer subjects in domestic settings and question society’s representation of traditional binary gender roles.

Specific photos are titled Julie Nursing Casper, Felix, and Seul ensemble. The exhibition is intended to promote reflection, interaction and respect among Montreal’s diverse communities.


To mark its 100th anniversary, the McCord Museum has also launched an open access platform with bilingual descriptions of over 140,000 objects from its collections. The website also features around 130,000 royalty-free images.

The digital initiative has received funding from the Azrieli Foundation and Canadian Heritage. The content is intended for the broad public as well as history researchers.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new ways to explore your creative core?


(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the museum.)

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Edited by Suman Singh