Founded in 1980 and incorporated in 1982, the Écomusée du fier monde is a Montréal working class and industrial history museum that promotes grassroots involvement. Recognized and supported by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and by the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the Écomusée emphasizes the history and heritage of the Centre-Sud in Montréal. As a microcosm of the Industrial Revolution in Québec in the second half of the 19th century, this neighbourhood witnessed firsthand the impact of industry on labour as well as on the living conditions of working class families.
The Écomusée du fier monde develops its museum practice based on popular education and establishes participatory projects in close collaboration with the neighbourhood’s citizens, institutions and organizations. Furthermore, it is engaged in the issues that concern present and future development of its surroundings.
To learn more about the Écomusée du fier monde:
- Giroux, Éric (2016). The Public in Museums: Visitors or Citizens Partners?. THÉMA. La revue des Musées de la civilisation 4:109-124.
- Binette, René (2009). La contribution des institutions muséales au « capital social » : cas de l’Écomusée du fier monde (Montréal, Canada). Dans Iñaki Arrieta Urtizberea (éd.) Activaciones patrimoniales e iniciativas museísticas ¿Por quién? Y ¿para quién?. (p. 129-150). Bilbao : Euskal Herriko Unibertsitateko Argitalpen Zerbitzua et Servicio Editorial de la Universidad del País Vasco.
- to emphasize themes of labour and community engagement (engagement citoyen) in Montréal, in their historical and contemporary contexts;
- to develop a lasting community based museology (muséologie citoyenne) by using museum activities as tools toward popular education and empowerment;
- to contribute to the development of our ecomuseum territory by emphasizing its heritage and culture in collaboration with local actors;
- to share our expertise and communicate with others at local, national, and international levels, and thereby contribute to the development of communities.
The values that guide the Écomusée:
- the community role of the Écomusée;
- respect for labour and the people who perform it;
- rigour and excellence.
The community role of the Écomusée
The Écomusée du fier monde is inspired by the Declaration from the Table ronde de Santiago du Chili (1972) and by the ecomuseum philosophy developed by Hugues de Varine, among others.
This is reflected in a museum philosophy based on:
- popular education, a way of learning that makes use of the diverse knowledge of the populace and seeks to raise awareness and inspire public reflection;
- cultural democracy, which is founded on equality between all the people and diverse groups that make up society, and on valorizing their expertise and knowledge, particularly those who are underrepresented in museums (or, who are given little voice);
- the place and role of people, who take priority over objects at the Écomusée; the museum also pays particular attention to marginalized groups;
- the relationships that the institution creates with its surroundings;
- engagement, i.e. supporting people and organizations that want to play a role in advancing society, and acknowledging that the acts of individuals can contribute to changing the world and improving society.
Respect for labour and the people who perform it
For the Écomusée du fier monde labour is more than a topic, it’s an issue and a value. An ecomuseum that’s rooted in its community will inevitably seek to reflect the uniqueness of its surroundings. The Centre-Sud was a cradle of the Industrial Revolution and a microcosm of industrialization in Montréal. This neighbourhood, this city and this society are heirs to the fruits of daily labour carried out by generations of people, a process that continues to this day and will continue into the future. This work, which merits pride and respect, is promoted by the Écomusée, as are the people who perform it
The Écomusée considers labour to be – as it long has been – a crucial issue in society. To take an interest in labour is to question social bonds. It is the role of a civic and community museum in an area like the Centre-Sud to take an interest in the labour of the past, the present and the future, because labour is at the heart of our daily personal lives as well as our collective future.
This respect for labour in all its forms is likewise reflected in the relationships that the Écomusée has with its partners, its volunteers and its internal team.
Rigour and excellence
The Écomusée du fier monde was created in the spirit of community groups and the popular education movement. It became a professional museum accredited by the authorities, and earned excellence awards and the acclaim of its peers by developing, among other things, methods that encourage the use of museum activities as tools of popular education.
The Écomusée du fier monde continues to work with diverse community and popular education groups. It seeks to promote the knowledge of a wide variety of persons and groups, including those who are marginalized. This approach is in perfect harmony with the idea of a community museum.
The Écomusée du fier monde aims for the highest quality in its activities (research, exhibitions, education, community actions, etc.) and rigour in the processes that allows these activities to be carried out. This demand for quality is also reflected in the partnerships that the Écomusée develops, as well as in its vision of synergy with other museum institutions and with its local and regional partners. Rigour and excellence must likewise apply to the internal team and to the management of the Écomusée.