The réserve muséale de la Capitale nationale: a modern and secure conservation facility

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The Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale is now a reality. It meets accepted standards of preventive conservation and functionality. Almost twenty years of patience, discussions and planning have gone into achieving this. During this time, the orientation and future direction of the collections also came under basic scrutiny.
This book details the studies and strategies that underpinned this vast undertaking, and describes some of the measures that helped ensure that the move proceeded smoothly and the principles that guided the organization of the collections in the new, highly functional and secure facilities. The photos and illustrations show the size and uniqueness of the new facilities as well as the care that was given to the artefacts
in the national collections during the move.
A wide range of expertise came into play. Administrators, curators, conservators, engineers, designers, architects, and museology technicians brought their respective skills and determination together in this project. It is time to take stock of all this work – and the results. Now that it can at last enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, in these pages the team responsible for the creation of the new reserve is making its experience public, and gratefully acknowledging the inspiration and advice received from various institutions and colleagues.
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Couv. Réserve muséale ANG 07/04/04 13:03 Page 1
he Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale is now aT reality. It meets accepted standards of preventive
conservation and functionality. Almost twenty years of
patience, discussions and planning have gone into achieving
this. During this time, the orientation and future direction of
the collections also came under basic scrutiny.
This book details the studies and strategies that underpinned
this vast undertaking, and describes some of the measures THE RÉSERVE MUSÉALE
that helped ensure that the move proceeded smoothly and
the principles that guided the organization of the collections
COLLECTION DE LA CAPITALE
in the new, highly functional and secure facilities. The photos MUSÉ0
and illustrations show the size and uniqueness of the new NATIONALE
facilities as well as the care that was given to the artefacts
in the national collections during the move. A Modern and Secure
Conservation FacilityA wide range of expertise came into play. Administrators,
curators, conservators, engineers, designers, architects, and
museology technicians brought their respective skills and Edited by
determination together in this project. It is time to take
Andrée Gendreau and
stock of all this work – and the results. Now that it can at
Marie-Charlotte De Konincklast enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, in these pages
the team responsible for the creation of the new reserve is
making its experience public, and gratefully acknowledging
the inspiration and advice received from various institutions
and colleagues.
ISBN 2-89544-062-X1
,!7IC8J5-eeagci!
Excerpt of the full publication
THE RÉSERVE MUSÉALE DE LA CAPITALE NATIONALEExcerpt of the full publicationTHE RÉSERVE MUSÉALE
DE LA CAPITALE
NATIONALE
A Modern and Secure
Conservation Facility
Excerpt of the full publicationNational Library of Canada cataloguing in publication
Main entry under title:
The réserve muséale de la Capitale nationale: a modern and secure
conservation facility
(Collection Muséo)
Translation of: La réserve muséale de la Capitale nationale.
Includes bibliographical references.
Co-published by: Musée de la civilisation.
ISBN 2-89544-062-X
1. Museum storage facilities – Québec (Province) – Québec. 2. Museum
conservation methodes – Québec (Province) – Québec. 3. Museums –
Collection management – Qrouébec. 4. Collectibles –
Conservation and restauration. 5. Musée de la civilisation (Québec).
I. Gendreau, Andrée, 1943- . II. Muébec).
III. Series: Collection Musée. French.
AM145.R4714 2004 069’.53 C2004-940587-XTHE RÉSERVE MUSÉALE
DE LA CAPITALE
NATIONALE
A Modern and Secure
Conservation Facility
Edited by
Andrée Gendreau and
Marie-Charlotte De Koninck
Excerpt of the full publicationEdited by
Andrée Gendreau, Director, Collections Department, Musée de la civilisation
Marie-Charlotte De Koninck, Research Manager, Research and Evaluation
Department, Musée de la civilisation
Text
Andrée Gendreau, Director, Collections Department
Marie Dufour, Writer, Parabole inc.
Danielle Rompré, Collections Manager
France Rémillard, Conservator
Collaboration
External:
Claude Belleau, Conservator, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Pierre Thibault, Architect
Musée de la civilisation:
Marie Barnard, Secretary, Collections Department
Claude Camirand, Director, Technology Department
Christian Denis, Curator
Georges Élie, Director, Physical Resources Department
Nicole Grenier, Curator
Thérèse La Tour, Curator
Michel Laurent, Curator
Jeanne d’Arc Ouellet, Coordinator, Collection Relocation Operations,
Physical Resources Department
Danielle Poiré, Director, Conservation and Administration Division
Marie-Paule Robitaille, Curator
Mario Roy, Coordinator, Reserve Installation Operations, Physical Resources
Department
Danielle Roy, Secretary, Research and Evaluation Department
Sylvie Toupin, Curator
Katherine Tremblay, Curator
Guy Toupin, Curator
Editing, French version: Dominique Johnson
English translation: Traduction Tandem
Editing, English version: Nancy Kingsbury
Printing: Transcontinental Impression
IMPRIMÉ AU CANADA/PRINTED IN CANADA
Excerpt of the full publicationThe Musée de la civilisation is a government corporation subsidized
by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec.
© Éditions MultiMondes and Musée de la civilisation, 2004
Éditions MultiMondes Musée de la civilisation de Québec
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Telephone: (418) 651-3885 Telephone: (418) 643-2158
Telephone (toll-free in Fax: (418) 646-9705
North America): 1 800 840-3029 mcqweb@mcq.org
Fax: (418) 651-6822 http://www.mcq.org
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North America): 1 888 303-5931
multimondes@multim.com
http://www.multim.com
ISBN 2-89544-062-X – Éditions MultiMondes
Legal Deposit – National Library of Quebec, 2004y of Canada, 2004
Excerpt of the full publicationForeword
We must, of course, rejoice in the opening of the museum
reserve which houses and protects the national collections, but
we cannot do so without first turning our thoughts to the
people who dreamed, imagined and created the conditions that
allowed this vast undertaking to go ahead. Almost twenty years
of patience, discussions and demonstrations have gone into
achieving this result. Today, I would like to express my gratitude
to the team of visionaries who launched the project, all of
whom I am proud to have known and worked with.
I would also like to express my gratitude to those assigned
to the project. Those who, behind the scenes in their offices,
using both classical and modern tools, managed to give shape to
our dreams and satisfy our needs. They are part of the extended
family that created the Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale.
I would also like to thank the management team which, by
virtue of the quality of its work reports, its enthusiasm and
generous participation, created an integrated reserve that combines
technical and technological performance with conservation
expertise and a concern for staff well-being. The project was
guided by these three priorities. Similarly, architect Pierre
Thibault’s design with its sober lines, high functionality and
common areas filled with natural light is extremely appealing.
And what can be said about the understanding and support
of professionals and executives from the Quebec government
who carried and defended our project to the end? Without a
political will and a genuine understanding of the objectives as
well as of the social and cultural value of the collections
ix
Excerpt of the full publicationThe Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale
entrusted to our care, we could not have achieved the same level
of excellence in our national collections conservation centre.
Finally, allow me to say a few words about our collection
which, from an initially strictly ethnographic and historic vision,
has embraced a more sociological, comprehensive and
contemporary perspective. Today, we do not hesitate to describe the
collection as “societal.” This new orientation has, of course,
changed our way of collecting, interpreting and exhibiting
objects. Not only is it more inclusive, it also answers to a
contemporary epistemology that establishes connections between
disciplines and ways of life. We like to call it “ecological”…
Lastly, this is an unpretentious book. We offer it to our
colleagues in other museums as a record of our experience,
highly relevant in situations, rare though they may be, when
reserves or conservation centres are built. This transfer of
knowledge acquired in the course of the project is not without
purpose. It is intended to perpetuate the chain of transmission
by recounting our experience to the community, as colleagues
who preceded us in similar adventures have been generous
enough to do. We are very grateful to them.
Claire SIMARD
Executive Director
Musée de la civilisation
x
Excerpt of the full publicationTable of Contents
FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Claire Simard
CHAPTER 1
FROM THE CREATION OF A COLLECTION
TO THE CONCEPT OF A CONSERVATION FACILITY. . . . . 1
Andrée Gendreau
CHAPTER 2
BETWEEN AN OPEN RESERVE AND A CLOSED VAULT . . 19
Marie Dufour
Storage Area and Storage System Requirements . . . . . . 31
A Three-Section Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
and the Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale . . . . . . . 37
CHAPTER 3
THE MOVE: RISING TO THE CHALLENGE . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Danielle Rompré
TLC for the Collections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Recycling: At What Cost?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
xi
Excerpt of the full publicationThe Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale
CHAPTER 4
PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
France Rémillard
Preventive Strategy Profiles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Collection of Naturalized Animals and Animal
Specimens in Jars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Strategy for Silverware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Strategy for Firearms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Sootwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Strategy for Fans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Strategy for Clocks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Strategy for Scientific Instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
Strategy for the Doll Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
Specifications for the Glass Cabinets, Silverware and
Unstable Steatites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Specifications for the Oversized Cabinet
for Flat Textiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
CHAPTER 5
SOLVING A DILEMMA:
THE COLLECTION OR THE OBJECT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Andrée Gendreau
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Andrée Gendreau
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
xii
Excerpt of the full publicationExcerpt of the full publicationChapter 1
FROM THE CREATION OF A COLLECTION
TO THE CONCEPT
OF A CONSERVATION FACILITY
Andrée GENDREAU
The Musée de la civilisation:
Its Mandate, Its Mission
Established in 1986, the Musée de la civilisation is the most
recent provincial government museum in Quebec. Created
following the National Museums Act, the Musée de la civilisation
put an end to the long, heated debates between those in favour
of a museum of history and ethnology, such as the Musée de
l’homme d’ici, and, on the other side, proponents of a futuristic
museum which would be resolutely turned towards the modern
era, open to contemporary social debates, with an explicit
cultural and educational mandate.
Rather than focusing on the uniqueness of the homme d’ici,
the Musée de la civilisation was designed for people in all their
guises, both the culturally specific and the universal. While the
former museum was based on research and collections, the latter
pictured itself as a centre of information dissemination and
discussion, and sought to develop Quebecers’ social and cultural
awareness through social debates, exhibitions, and cultural and
educational activities. Rather than opting for a traditional
1
Excerpt of the full publicationThe Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale
museum founded on history and ethnicity and based on
collections of objects, a modern museum, aware of contemporary
issues, open to all the citizens of Quebec and the world, but
lacking any collections of its own, was created.
The Musée de la civilisation was expected to be open to
contemporary concerns, to develop collaborations and to highlight
our shared experience with others. In the Museum’s view, culture
is dynamic and vibrant, ever-changing and without clearly
defined borders. Wisely, however, the Ministry added to this
new orientation – previously unheard of for a museum – more
traditional rights, obligations and duties. Thus the Museum
would also be expected to “ensure the preservation and
development of the ethnographic collection and other representative
1collections of our civilization.”
It therefore made way for a collection, admittedly with
some initial reservations, then with growing interest as
opportunities arose. Defining the goal and direction for the Museum’s
collection soon became imperative. What should the function
of an object be in the concept of the Musée de la civilisation?
Could the current collection be adapted to this concept and
what type of collection should be given priority?
The time had come to adapt the collection to Quebec’s
contemporary reality and to contemporary knowledge in the
social sciences. Originally ethnographic, the collection would
become societal, the objects mirroring major historical, social
and philosophical concerns of the late 20th century.
Conserving so as to Better Share
Before going any further, the challenges and implications of a
collection had to be well understood: why and for whom was it
being preserved? What makes it legitimate for an institution,
indeed the State, to withdraw goods from the social circulation
1. National Museums Act, R. S. Q., chapter M-44 (subsection 24.1,
paragraph 2), Quebec, Éditeur officiel du Québec, 1998.
2From the Creation of a Collection to the Concept
of a Conservation Facility
system (donation, market, family bequest, etc.) and appropriate
them? No need to reinvent the wheel. We have already
considered this question. While British practice has for many years
mapped out the path in a clearly exemplary manner, the texts
of the French Revolution nonetheless remain the cornerstone.
From the outset of the French Revolution, legislation of the
arts led to the creation of the public museum in France on
July 27, 1793, and made provision for the rights, privileges and
duties granted to museums. State collections belong to the
collective and are dedicated to the protection of heritage and
the “instruction” of the citizen.
Over two hundred years have passed and this educational
mission has remained unaltered. In Quebec, the Musée de la
civilisation’s incorporating act is explicit in this respect: to the
mission of preservation is added the obligation to: “make known
the history and the various cultural elements of our civilization,
particularly the social and material aspects of the cultures of the
occupants of the territory of Québec and the cultures that have
2contributed to the enrichment of those cultures.”
In a document entitled Mission, Concept and Orientations,
the Museum indicates how it intends to use its collection for
purposes of information dissemination and education:
“The Musée de la civilisation has the mandate to preserve,
complete and increase collections representative of Quebec. It
also undertakes to ensure that these collections are made
accessible to users and partners. The museum remains responsible
for developing and presenting collections which are reflective
of the material culture of Quebec. Preservation activities
therefore contribute to the realization of the dissemination program
and the object, in the life of a museum, is simultaneously a point
of reference, an impetus, a pretext, a complement of and
support for the themes, but also a witness to a period and a way
3of life.”
2. Ibid., paragraph 1.
3. Mission, Concept and Orientations, Quebec, Musée de la civilisation, 1996,
p. 15.
3The Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale
This clearly demonstrates the importance of the collection.
It was therefore extremely important for the Museum to
incorporate the ethnographic collection in a way that was compatible
with the Museum’s mission. The challenges were substantial.
Creating and sustaining a living memory capable of fostering a
contemporary Quebec identity was to become the leitmotif of
ensuing activities. Without closing the door on the past, the
collection had to present an image of a Quebec society that was
vibrant and contemporary, that is, inclusive, pluralistic and
mixed. Citizens of all origins and of all conditions had to be able
to recognize themselves or find elements of a shared experience
in the collection. The Musée de la civilisation wished to add a
more sociological perspective to its predecessor’s ethnographic
one and to fulfil its preservation mandate by adding other
collections representative of Quebec to the core collection it had
initially inherited.
Without completely renouncing the serial method that had
been used to create last century’s major collections, the Museum
adopted a practice whereby objects were collected and
interpreted in relation to their memorial or illustrative value. Seeking
to innovate by reflecting contemporary thinking, acquisitions
were examined from a global perspective that considers
collections as groups of objects that shed light on cultural phenomena,
provide a record of ideologies, practices and social groups. Here,
the object draws meaning from its relationship with one or more
elements of the social group of which it is an expression, a trace,
a sign, indeed, from which it is evidence.
To accomplish this, two closely related dimensions had to
be brought together: the consolidation of a collection reflecting
a specific cultural heritage and the adaptation of this inheritance
to the contemporary reality. These had to be brought together
in a collection that could be showcased in the Museum’s
exhibitions and shared with other museums.
4
Excerpt of the full publicationFrom the Creation of a Collection to the Concept
of a Conservation Facility
In 1989, barely a year after the Museum opened, it defined
4its development goals for the collection in order to provide
guidelines for the acquisition of new objects that would led to
the creation of a meaningful collection that mirrored the life and
evolution of a complex, diverse society. To start the operation, a
number of sectors, such as health, leisure, new occupations,
communications, cultural communities and French-speaking
communities outside Quebec, were identified. We also wanted
to take into account Quebec’s different social classes and visible
patterns and differences in the social fabric. This again implied
re-examining the collecting method. The age of searching for a
beautiful, unique, rare or original object is drawing to an end.
Instead we wished to create a collection representative of all social
classes and social realities.
From an Ethnographic Collection to a Societal
Collection
Guided by this, the Museum’s collection underwent a
phenomenal expansion, from 50,000 objects in 1985 to roughly 95,000
in 1995, and to 125,000 in 2003. If we add the collections of
stamps, coins, religious pictures and items and the works on
paper and cards deposited at the Museum by the priests from
the Séminaire de Québec in 1995, the number of objects in the
Musée de la civilisation’s various collections totals nearly a quarter
of a million, excluding the library and archives.
Now that we have caught up, the directions in which
the collection will henceforth develop have been revised. Before
we present the project for a Réserve muséale de la capitale
nationale, it would be appropriate to take a qualitative look at
this development.
4. Les axes de développement de la collection, Quebec City, Musée de la
civilisation, 1989.
5
Excerpt of the full publicationThe Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale
The Nucleus Collection
Quebec’s ethnographic collection, which was given to the Musée
de la civilisation in 1985, was created over a period of
approximately 60 years. While various organizations and private
collectors were instrumental in its development, the result is
nonetheless highly coherent and the large majority of the 50,000
or so objects illustrate Aboriginal and “French Canadian” ways
of life in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
While Quebec’s ethnographic collection began in 1927, it
was relatively slow to develop. A compilation of the collection
reveals that 24 years later, upon the departure of Pierre-Georges
Roy, first curator of the Musée de la Province de Québec (today
the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec) in 1941, the
“Canadiana” collection, as it was called, numbered little more
than one hundred objects. During Paul Rainville’s mandate,
from 1941 to 1952, the number rose to nearly 550. When
Gérard Morrisset assumed directorship of the Museum in 1953,
the collection grew by an average of over one hundred objects a
year, reaching its cruising speed around 1965 when it exceeded
1,000 pieces. But we had to wait for the advent of major private
collections for the Museum’s collection to truly grow into a
national collection.
The Collection Coverdale
The year 1968 marked an important stage in the development
of the ethnographic collections. In that year, the Government
of Quebec acquired the renowned Collection Coverdale, also
known as the “Tadoussac” or “Canada Steamship Lines”
Collection. This collection, which numbers close to 2,500 pieces,
5includes First Peoples’ and French Canadian sections.
5. The term “First Peoples” refers to all indigenous peoples of North
America. The term “Amerindian” does not include the Inuit.
6
Excerpt of the full publicationCouv. Réserve muséale ANG 07/04/04 13:03 Page 1
he Réserve muséale de la capitale nationale is now aT reality. It meets accepted standards of preventive
conservation and functionality. Almost twenty years of
patience, discussions and planning have gone into achieving
this. During this time, the orientation and future direction of
the collections also came under basic scrutiny.
This book details the studies and strategies that underpinned
this vast undertaking, and describes some of the measures THE RÉSERVE MUSÉALE
that helped ensure that the move proceeded smoothly and
the principles that guided the organization of the collections
COLLECTION DE LA CAPITALE
in the new, highly functional and secure facilities. The photos MUSÉ0
and illustrations show the size and uniqueness of the new NATIONALE
facilities as well as the care that was given to the artefacts
in the national collections during the move. A Modern and Secure
Conservation FacilityA wide range of expertise came into play. Administrators,
curators, conservators, engineers, designers, architects, and
museology technicians brought their respective skills and Edited by
determination together in this project. It is time to take
Andrée Gendreau and
stock of all this work – and the results. Now that it can at
Marie-Charlotte De Konincklast enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, in these pages
the team responsible for the creation of the new reserve is
making its experience public, and gratefully acknowledging
the inspiration and advice received from various institutions
and colleagues.
ISBN 2-89544-062-X1
,!7IC8J5-eeagci!
Excerpt of the full publication
THE RÉSERVE MUSÉALE DE LA CAPITALE NATIONALE

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