Collections and Research
The Photography collection encompasses over 2.1 million images that primarily document the social history of Montreal, but also that of Quebec and Canada. Its holdings range from daguerreotypes created in the 1840s to contemporary digital images.
Explore the collection online
The Notman Photographic Archives form the core of the collection with some 400,000 photographs from the Montreal studio founded in 1856 by William Notman (1826-1891) and run by his sons until 1935.
From glass negatives and original prints to stereograms, composites and painted photographs, these images record Canada’s growth in the latter half of the 19th century, Montreal’s leading role in the country’s social and economic development, westward expansion, and the construction of the transcontinental railway. The Notman Photographic Archives are listed on UNESCO’s Canada Memory of the World Register.
The collection also contains thousands of photographs grouped in albums, series and portfolios, created by professionals, amateurs and artists. It is a rich source of vernacular photography and images of Indigenous people.
In addition, the Museum holds a number of cameras and accessories that illustrate technical developments in photography, along with viewing devices like stereoscopes, magic lanterns and modern projectors that were or are used in Canada.
The Standard Life – Notman Fund provides annual financing for the care and diffusion of the Notman Collection.
Zoë joined the McCord Museum in 2022. Her research has focussed on examining print culture as a vital form of dissemination for photography; retracing the networks of people and institutions that constitute the field of visual culture; and elucidating the affective bonds created by photographs and photographic practice.
Meet curator Zoë Tousignant and learn more about her expertise and her work.