The Desjardins Museum of Photography, in Drummondville, houses the most important collection of cameras in Quebec and one of the finest collections in Canada. He is currently fighting for survival, having found himself with completely empty vaults last December. The museum believes he was the victim of fraud. He reportedly lost $585,000. Currently dozens of volunteers are working wholeheartedly to keep it alive and open.
“We have obtained confirmation, with our external verification, that the museum was going to be a victim of fraud.” duty Chairman of the Board of Directors, Michel Doyon. “It is money that should have been used to pay suppliers, accounts and credit cards, which appear to have been misappropriated, over a period of two years.”
“When I see the museum being misused in this way, I cannot tell you how much my heart hurts,” said Mr. Doyon. “Then I tell you, it reminds us of how much pain we were in when we realized it. Quebec security confirms that the museum has filed a complaint and that the investigation is ongoing.
Seeing the museum being mistreated in this way, I cannot tell you how much my heart hurts.
The museum, already weakened by the pandemic, finds itself “currently in debt of just over $300,000”, which it attributes to alleged fraud. For a small organization used to operating on a budget of about $230,000 a year, the impact is huge. It is funded by his community, through the Immigrant Resource Center of Drummondville, the City of Drummondville and Desjardins Drummondville.
The consequences are not just financial. Over the past year, two members of the administration have left the museum. “All jobs that previously appeared on the site as a team work no longer exist: secretary, archivist, gallery manager, guides,” as he wrote Express In one of his articles about the museum.
Currently, Mr. Doyon explains, the Photography Club is all about amateurs, all volunteers like himself, who take turns keeping the museum and its activities open.
Museology of survival
“The city and the MRC are concerned about our special situation. We really feel their support,” adds Mr. Doyon. “Things are going well; By mid-September, we think we can find solutions. But there it is, yes: the museum is in “survival mode”. »
The chairman hopes to be able to announce the management position in the fall, “so that we have a general manager who can take over at the beginning of 2024. This gives us time to put together a recovery plan, relaunch and strengthen the museum’s activities. We try to do everything at the same time.” “.
Some environmental observers and with them duty However, I think the role of the next director of the museum should be to think about its own future.
Funding for the Museum of Photography has been difficult since its foundation in 2003, when it was headed by Jean Lauzon. “It requires approval,” issued by Quebec according to the museum’s good practices, which allows in the process of obtaining regional funding, estimates former general manager, Jonathan Hughes-Potvin, who left the museum a few years ago.
“We went through all the steps twice to get approval. It’s a lot of work. Twice it was rejected for vague reasons that are hard for us to understand. The government requires this approval to adhere to “internationally recognized standards of museum practice and the protection and promotion of heritage.”
According to Mr. Potvin, it’s a vicious cycle: “If we get accreditation and the funding that comes with it, that gives the museum the means to improve and meet the government’s expectations.”
“It really takes a lot to make it happen on your own, using the means the museum has. The former director adds that this museum is a unique cultural gem. People who come here come back. It has to survive.”
When it opened in 2006, the Museum of Photography, which includes three exhibition halls, a darkroom, studio, library and multifunctional room, was the only museum dedicated exclusively to this art in Quebec.
The McCord-Stuart Museum in Montreal and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Quebec have developed important photography columns, “but they both work mainly on photography,” explains historian and photographer Pierre Lahoud, while in Drummondville the focus is on the history and techniques of photography, much on cameras. .
Drummondville Principal Group, which was acquired in 2017, is The Architects Group Bruce and Becerra Anderson. “Mr. Anderson was a perfectionist. Before acquiring the device, he made sure it was in perfect condition. The value of this set was estimated at $1.2 million,” says Michel Doyon.
And by joining the legacy of photographer Germain Beauchamp (1931-2019), the museum’s camera collection, consisting of some 20,000 cameras, is now of world-class caliber, according to photography specialists Robert Hebert and Pierre Lahoud.
from her side, Quebec Museums Association He recalls, “A museum in danger of closing is the dream of a community in danger of extinction; It is the will of the city to maintain its connection with history. It would be a loss for the diversity of Quebec’s museums, said general manager Stéphane Chagnon.
Indeed, it is the community, a group of volunteers, who continue to beat at the heart of the Museum thanks to their efforts. exceptional case? Michel Doyon replies: “When you have people excited, madam, there’s nothing you can’t do.” “We sincerely believe that the museum should survive, for several years. So we are doing what needs to be done.”
Let’s see in the video
“Music guru. Incurable web practitioner. Thinker. Lifelong zombie junkie. Tv buff. Typical organizer. Evil beer scholar.”