Montreal doesn’t have a women’s museum, so I went to Longueil, a suburb in the south of Montreal. Don’t let its basic little bungalow appearance fool you, visiting this museum is an uncommon experience.
I advise you to call before your visit. You might be lucky enough to be greeted by Lydie Olga Ntap, the museum’s founder and both a lawyer and a museologist. Lydie Olga Ntap is a well of information not only about her museum but also about other women’s museum around the world: she’s vice-president of the International Association of Women’s Museums (IAWM).
And maybe, just like I did, you’ll end spending over 4 hours at the museum.
Lydie Olga Ntap will tell you how each detail, each object has thought as trigger to spark conversation, because “far too many women in far too many countries speak the same language: silence”.
The choice of Longueil as a site for the museum is both surprising and relevant. Indeed, the suburb was a fertile ground for spontaneous meetings between women from the same neighborhood, women who had confined lives. “The revolution starts in the suburbs”, Lydie Olga Ntap comments.
The museum takes you into the History of women in Quebec, as well as their daily and intimate lives.
You will enter through a kitchen door, “the only space that was designed for women”, says Lydie Olga Ntap. Women were surrounded by alienating objects, constant reminders of their role within the home. And yet, this gendered space is also a convivial and a communication space, a place of resistance.
In your journey through the History of the Quebecoises, you’ll enter their daily spaces, rooms which seem common, familiar but, with the museum’s explanations, turn into surprisingly subversive places.
This little post-war house, with its retro furniture and decoration, is actually an amazing laboratory where women reinvented objects of their daily life and plotted their soon-to-be-won freedom.
At the end of the visit, you can meet some museum’s volunteers and talk about your impressions over a cup of coffee and a freshly baked pudding.
If you want to continue your experience, the museum gives out books for free, from a large selection of feminist books.
The museum has been open for nearly ten years, run by volunteers and managed on her own by its founder, without any subventions. Auto-financed, the museum offers a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, and organizes training, animations and events.
A funding campaign is currently online, titled “I’m a woman and I am from here”, to raise funds to help the museum develop its projects and its regular operations.
I came back with arms and head full. The warm welcome of the museum’s volunteers will make your experience very unique and memorable.
The museum is free and open to public the Thursday from 10:00 am
The women’s museum of Longueil;
Address : 2380, boulevard Roland-Therrien,
Longueuil, Québec, J4L 1V9
Tél : 450.748.1600
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Even if Longueil is served by the STM (Montreal’s Public Transport Network), it has its own transportation system as well. At the Longueil-University-of-Sherbrook station, you can take the 410, 417 or 76 bus lines.