July 23, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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The Drummondville Museum of Photography is fighting for its survival

The Drummondville Museum of Photography is fighting for its survival

The Musée de la Photographie Desjardins in Drummondville has the most important collection of cameras in Quebec and one of the greatest in Canada. He is currently fighting for his survival in front of completely empty vaults last December. The museum believes it is a hoax. He lost $585,000. A dozen volunteers are currently working hard to keep it alive and open.

“With the external verification we have done, we have come to the conclusion that the museum is vulnerable to fraud”, destiny Chairman of the Board of Directors, Michelle Doyan. “This is money that should have been used to pay suppliers, accounts, credit cards, it seems to have been misused over a two year period. »

“I can’t tell you how much it breaks my heart to see the museum being abused in this way,” Mr Dion said. “Then say, there, it reminds us how much it hurts us when we realize it. The Sûreté du Québec confirms that the museum has filed a complaint and that an investigation is underway.

I can’t tell you how much it breaks my heart to see the museum being abused in this way.

The museum, already weakened by the pandemic, is “currently just over $300,000 in debt,” which it attributed to the alleged fraud. For a small establishment accustomed to operating on a budget of about $230,000 a year, the impact was enormous. It is funded by the MRC of Drummondville, the City of Drummondville and its community through Desjardins Drummondville.

The consequences are not just financial. In the past year, two management members have left the museum. “All the jobs that previously appeared on the site as a work team are no longer there: secretary, archivist, exhibition manager, guides”, As he wrote The Express One of his articles in the museum.

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It is currently the enthusiasts of the Photo Club, Mr. Doyan explains.

A museology of survival

“The city and MRC are concerned about our unique situation. We really feel their support,” adds Mr. Doyan. “Things are progressing well; By mid-September, we hope to find solutions. But there, yes: the museum is in “survival mode”. »

“The chairman of the board hopes to be able to announce a management position in the fall, to have a general manager who can take the reins as early as 2024. That will give us time to create a recovery plan, restart and consolidate the museum’s operations. We will try to do everything at the same time.

Some environmentalists, including destiny spoke, but believes that the role of the museum’s next director should reflect its future.

Funding the Musée de la Photographie has always been difficult since it was founded in 2003 under the leadership of Jean Lauzon. According to good museum practices, “it will be approved” issued by Quebec and allowed in the provincial funding process, predicted Jonathan-Hugues Potvin, the previous director general who left the museum a few years ago.

“We went through all the steps twice to get the approval. It’s a lot of work. And we rejected it twice, for obscure reasons, which we find difficult to understand. This approval requires the government to meet “internationally recognized standards in terms of museological practices, protection and heritage enhancement”.

Mr. According to Potvin, it’s a vicious circle: “If we have accreditation and the funding that comes with it, it gives the museum the means to improve and meet government expectations. »

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“To accomplish this on your own with the means that a museum has is really asking a lot. The museum is a unique cultural gem, adds the former director. Those who come here will return. He has to live. »

Equipment history

When it opened in 2006, it was the only museum of photography dedicated exclusively to the art in Quebec, with three galleries, a darkroom, a studio, a library and a multifunctional room.

The McCord Stewart Museum in Montreal and the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec have developed important photo poles, “but both work primarily on photography,” explains historian and photographer Pierre Lahoud, while at Drummondville, the focus is on history. Photography and its techniques, many in cameras.

Drummondville’s main collection, Architects in 2017. Bruce and Bissera Anderson. “Mr. Anderson is a perfectionist. Before getting the device, he made sure it was in perfect condition. According to Michelle Doyon, the collection is valued at approximately $1.2 million.

Joining the legacy of photographer Germain Beauchamp (1931-2019), the museum’s camera collection, made up of a total of 20,000 cameras, now has an international stature, according to photo experts Robert Hébert and Pierre Lahoud.

For its part, the Quebec Museums Society “A museum in danger of closing recalls the dream of a community in danger of disappearing; it is the will of a city to keep a link with history. This is a loss for museum diversity in Quebec,” said Director General Stéphane Chagnon.

And it is indeed the community, some volunteers, who still make the heart of the museum beat from their efforts. An unusual situation? “When you have passionate people, madam, there’s nothing you can’t do,” replies Michel Doyon. “We sincerely believe that the museum should be alive and stay for many years. So we will do what needs to be done. »

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