Material Culture - McCord Stewart Museum

Collections and Research

Biribi or Cavagnole game (detail), about 1750. 1975.65.1-11, McCord Stewart Museum

Material Culture

The Material Culture collection consists of more than 62,000 objects that primarily document the history of the domestic material environment in Montreal over the past three centuries. Originally a collection of artefacts associated with key figures, places and events in Canadian history, it has grown to encompass objects that represent people’s living conditions, tastes and ways of life.
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Items range from those associated with food preparation and service, interior decoration, household management, and leisure activities, to coins, medals, and more intimate articles illustrating personal hygiene and religious practices in the home. The collection includes locally produced, everyday objects—kitchen utensils, stoneware pots, dishes—as well as luxury glass, porcelain and silver imported from Europe.

Numerous objects from the material environment of children—cribs, dishes, highchairs, strollers, toys and games—chronicle the culture of childhood in Montreal and, more broadly, in Quebec and Canada, notably revealing practices associated with consumption, marketing, education and pedagogy.

The collection includes remarkable examples of scientific instruments dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries: terrestrial and celestial globes, microscopes and instruments used in navigation, exploration, medicine, and mathematics.

The demonstration instruments of Jean-Antoine Nollet and Sigaud de Lafond are undoubtedly the most remarkable artefacts in this collection. There are also numerous items associated with tobacco and others that evoke the military history of Canada, in general, and that of Quebec, in particular. Finally, antique weapons, firearms, bladed weapons and other artillery pieces from around the world complete the collection.

  • Biribi or Cavagnole game (detail), about 1750. 1975.65.1-11, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Powder horn, 1759. Gift of David Ross McCord, M6935, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Dinner plate made by Davenport, 1830-1840. MC988.1.69, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Terrestial globe, Matthäus Greuter, 1632. 1968.8.1, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Chest of drawers, 1750-1760. Gift of Mrs. Southam, M14500, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Atmospheric pump in the style of Abbot Jean-Antoine Nollet, 1770-1800.26.1, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Cup with the coat of arms of the Marquis de Montcalm, 1725-1756. Gift of David Ross McCord, M4839, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Fashion doll and accessories, 1863-1866. Gift of Palazi-Raby family, M2010.10.1.1-200, McCord Stewart Museum

Guislaine Lemay

Guislaine joined the McCord Museum team in 1992. Overseeing a collection of artefacts associated with domestic interiors, consumption habits, community life and scientific advances, Guislaine is especially interested in the material and cultural biographies of things and the relationships that people have with objects.

Meet curator Guislaine Lemay and learn more about her expertise and her work.
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Not to be missed!

Not to be missed!