11 December 2018


Beyond Tradition | Elizabeth Cytko

Today we are stepping out of Toronto to take a trip over to Montreal.

A sign outside of the museum advertises the shop.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko

The McCord Museum sits on the edge of McGill campus, in the bustling heart of the city. The vision of the museum is to promote Montreal's social history of the past and present.

A display case exhibits some of the local goods to be found inside.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko

The gift shop is located near the front entrance of the museum with attractive display cases which summons the eager visitor inside.

A small sampling of their book selection.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko

The overall layout of the store is compact. It is a well-lit space with shelves and tables full of goodies which draw the eye in all directions. The store is laid out by theme, with a section on Expo 67, another on local Montreal art, another on Canada books, and another on special and permanent exhibition themed items. It has a corner full of books about the history of Canada and Montreal. There is a diverse array of books suited to readers of all levels. I was heartened to see the graphic novel Louis Riel by Chester Brown included amongst them.

The tongue in cheek references to eternal construction is embraced in these local items.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko

Browsing the products, it was pleasant to see how local artists are included. It gives the shop a unique identity, where not only the museum’s collection is promoted, but the items act as a conduit for the living city. They are an entry point for the traveling tourist to get a taste of the talent and interests of the place. Local products include pencil cases, jewelry, art prints, and other items that have a local flavour.

This soap cheekily comments on Quebec language laws
which tried to outlaw the Montreal 'Bonjour Hi' greeting in shops.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko

I was impressed by the hand crafted products included. I got a kick out of the Mile End Soap by Saved by the Box, which had cleverly named soaps relating to current political issues.

A mixture of local places and the collection pieces viewed on various products.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko
A super cool aspect is that the online shop has something called “Design Your Own Product.” This is where you can browse the online collections of the museum and select which image you want on a mug, shirt, or print! Instead of hoping that your favourite photo will be on something, you can make your dream a reality. They also do online shopping, where they have their special exhibition items under a separate tab so you can find them immediately. The webshop only has a few of the products that are contained in the store so I recommend that you visit the physical shop.

Some items featuring the current special exhibition.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cytko
A major draw back of the shop was physical navigation. It was designed without accessibility in mind, which means persons who use accessibility devices may have issues navigating the space. When I talked to the staff member on duty, they told me that they are aware of this issue and that they are working to finding a solution to it. The museum works hard to reach out to all communities so the gift shop wants to be able to also accommodate them to have a full experience.

Overall the store was pleasant to browse, with pleasant helpful staff. The stock was diverse enough to cater to adults and children alike.

I rate the museum a 4/5 with a point removed for lack of accessibility.

My rating scale is included in this post.

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