The McCord Stewart Museum's Notman Photographic Archives are now listed in the Canada Memory of the World Register, an honour that has been extended to only 16 Canadian collections to date.
The announcement was made September 11 by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the organization responsible for selecting candidates for this important register through the Canadian Advisory Committee for Memory of the World. The objective of the Memory of the World program, created by UNESCO in 1992, is to facilitate the preservation of and access to documentary heritage. The international register and national registers serve to increase awareness of documentary heritage as a "memory" of humanity.
"The Notman Photographic Archives at the McCord Stewart Museum were selected for their outstanding content and accessibility. The archives cover a wide range of topics related to the development of our country. They’re a treasure for anyone interested in the evolution of society in Canada, Quebec and Montreal and the history of photography in the 19th and early 20th centuries," said Sébastien Goupil, Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
"I’m delighted by this recognition of the Museum’s Notman Collection by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. The Museum acquired the first pieces of the collection in 1956 and has since worked meticulously to conserve and enhance the creations of this visionary photographer. The inclusion of the photographic archives in the Canadian Memory of the World Register strengthens our efforts to sustain the memory and influence of Notman's work and the documentation of the history of Montreal and Canadian society," said Suzanne Sauvage, President and CEO of the McCord Stewart Museum.
The McCord Stewart Museum's photographic collection comprises more than 1.3 million photographs that document the social history of Montreal, Quebec and Canada. The photographic archives of William Notman (1826-1891), recognized as the greatest Canadian photographer of the 19th century, form the heart of the collection with some 400,000 photographs from the studio he founded in Montreal in 1856. The studio was managed by his sons until 1935 under the name Wm. Notman & Son.
Notman is renowned for his entrepreneurial talent, communication skills and innovation. Featuring glass plate negatives, portraits, landscapes and stereoscopic shots of immense historical value, the collection tells the story of Canada's formation in the second half of the 19th century, Montreal's leading role in its socio-economic development, westward expansion and the construction of the transcontinental railway. The McCord Stewart Museum's Notman Collection is constantly enriched by donations from individuals, families and collectors and is an inexhaustible source of information on Montreal's history from 1859 to 1935.
More than 83,000 Notman artefacts are accessible in the collection's database, which can be consulted at the Museum's Archives and Documentation Centre. Of these, 67,000 are available at your fingertips on the McCord Museum's website at collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca. In addition, several hundred Notman works are featured in the exhibition Notman, A Visionary Photographer, organized and circulated by the McCord Museum, and in a book by the same name offered at the Museum's boutique.