Accepted Paper:

When the Gift Redefines the Curator's Roles. The Case of the Montreal Holocaust Museum  
Marie-Blanche Fourcade (Montreal Holocaust Museum)

Paper short abstract:

At the MHM, the process of gifting reveals a symbolic ritual that impacts the relation to the work of remembrance, as well as the relationship with the curator. Through the observation of a year's worth of donations, we propose to analyze this process and its impacts on the curator's roles.

Paper long abstract:

The Montreal Holocaust Museum, founded in 1979 by a group of survivors who immigrated to Montreal, has nowadays a collection of over 12,000 artifacts and archival documents, as well as more than 800 testimonies. One of this collection's particularities is that it mainly comprises gifts made by survivors and their families and, more broadly, by descendants of actors and witnesses of the Second World War. It is interesting to note that the process of gifting these so-called "sensitive" objects goes well beyond technical formalities. Indeed, it reveals, for each of the donors, a symbolic ritual that impacts the relation to the work of remembrance, as well as their relationship with the "guardians" of the museum's collection. On one hand, there is the story and the emotional surge - whether positive or negative - that accompanies every object or document during the transfer of ownership and the deposit of the item. On the other hand, as a counter-gift, is articulated the work of welcoming and taking charge of a story to be safeguarded and restored within the institution. In this context, the curator sees his role transformed as he becomes a witness and a companion to the transmission of a memory that sometimes needs to be protected, completed, repaired or highlighted. Through the observation of a year's worth of donations and meetings with donors at the Montreal Holocaust Museum, we propose to analyze this process and its impacts on the multiple roles that the curator can and must play.

Panel P064
Redefining the curator, curatorial practice, and curated spaces in anthropology