Collections and Research

Photo : Laura Dumitriu © Musée McCord Museum, 2019

Guislaine Lemay

Curator, Material culture

Beyond its materiality, an object carries cultural and social significance, as well as a personal and often emotional meaning.  It is these fascinating hidden stories that I enjoy bringing to light.


Guislaine Lemay joined the Museum in 1992, working primarily with the Indigenous Cultures collection. She studied anthropology and archeology and holds a master’s degree in ethnohistory from Université de Montréal. In 2010, she took charge of the Museum’s Decorative Arts collection. Since then, she has explored the world of play and developed expertise in children’s museology by working on annual toy exhibitions aimed at young visitors (and their parents) such as The Topsy-Turvy Storyland, Mister Rabbit’s Circus and Treasures in the Attic, to name a few. In 2016, with funding from Quebec’s digital culture plan, she took part in a major digitization project to photograph pieces of glassware and ceramics from the Museum’s collection.

In 2019, she was named Curator of Material Culture, a collection created following the merger of the McCord Museum and the Stewart Museum. This extensive collection consists of artefacts that illustrate domestic interiors, scientific advances, community life and consumption habits. The range of objects includes furniture, items related to food preparation, interior decoration and household management, numismatic materials, terrestrial globes and navigation instruments, hunting, fishing and sporting equipment, weapons and objets d’art.

More about the Material Culture Collection
Explore the collection online

Selected Publications

Book review of Nourrir la machine humaine. Nutrition et alimentation au Québec, 1860-1945 by Caroline Durand. In Ornamentum, Fall/Winter 2020. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

“Porter son identité : la collection de vêtements des Premiers Peuples du Musée McCord.” In Collecting Knowledge: New Dialogues on McCord Museum Collections/À la recherche du savoir : Nouveaux échanges sur les collections du Musée McCord, edited by Joanne Burgess, Cynthia Cooper, Natasha Zwarich and Céline Widmer, 53–68. Montreal: Éditions MultiMondes, 2015.

Wearing Our Identity: The First Peoples Collection, exhibition catalogue, co-edited with Moira T. McCaffrey, Sherry Farrell Racette and Suzanne Sauvage, Montreal: McCord Museum, 2013, 236 pages.

Selected Presentations

“George Mercer Dawson et la collection haïda du Musée McCord,” Les Belles Soirées, McCord Museum, October 1, 2019.

“Reactivating objects in Wearing Our Identity,” co-presented with Mike Patten, Resurgences, 2018 ICOMOS Canada Annual Meeting, May 23, 2018.

“Museums to Address ‘National Forgetfulness’,” annual conference of the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC), Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, October 12–15, 2017.

“Activating the Archive, as Artists/as Museums,” panel discussion with Maria Hupfield, Mary Longman and Guislaine Lemay moderated by Nadia Myre, Iakwé:Iahre Colloquium, presented by the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, Concordia University, Montreal, October 17, 2014.

L’objet identitaire – L’exposition Porter son identité – La collection Premiers Peuples,” Collecting Knowledge: New Dialogues on McCord Museum Collections, Montréal, Dynamic HubSpace: History, Heritage, Future and the McCord Museum, Montreal, November 7–9, 2013.

Not to be missed!

Not to be missed!