History of the Museum
The Monastery Museum (1936)
Knowing their monastery harbored heritage treasures, the Ursulines opened a seasonal museum to the public in 1936, which financed the new Ursuline mission in Japan. Secular guides interpreted the numerous objects arranged behind gates in the school’s great parlor. The museum displayed worship, household and educational objects, First Nations objects and, of course, the famous Montcalm skull.
The Museum-Archives (1946)
In 1946, the museum had been made permanent and was merged with the archives, located in a two-story concrete annex built in the Saint Augustine wing. The manager, Sister Agnès Barnard (1886–1964), held the dual title of archivist-curator. Objects as well as archival documents were exhibited. Access was by reservation or invitation only.
The Marie of the Incarnation Center (1964)
After giving the matter careful consideration, the nuns opened the Marie of the Incarnation Center in 1964. The center, located at 12, rue Donnacona, became the new site for sharing the community’s history. A huge success, it continued to grow until 1979, when it was divided into two separate entities: the Marie of the Incarnation Center and the Ursuline Museum in Quebec City.
The Ursuline Museum in Quebec City (1979–2016)
In 1979, since it contained valuable collections and there was a need to properly conserve and spotlight the community’s exceptional heritage, the museum became the province’s first religious-community museum to be accredited and subsidized by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs (known today as the Ministry of Culture and Communications). Under the direction of Sister Gabrielle Dagnault (1912–2010), Ph.D. in art history, the museum moved away from its pastoral functions and shifted toward showcasing the cultural and social aspects of the Ursulines’ heritage.
In 1993, the nuns named layperson Christine Cheyrou to the post of museum director. Cheyrou held this position until 2016. Various exhibition projects were developed during her tenure. The museum became increasingly professional and its reputation, as well as its collections, grew.
The Pôle culturel du Monastère des Ursulines (2017–…)
Since 2017, the museum has been under the management of the Pôle culturel du Monastère des Ursulines, an organization created by the Ursulines to manage their archives, their collections and the museum.
A vibrant and community-minded museum institution, the Pôle culturel promotes the Ursulines’ priceless heritage in innovative ways through high-quality exhibitions and a wide variety of activities that serve its various publics.