Collections and Research

Photo: © Laura Dumitriu, 2019

Zoë Tousignant


In my curatorial work, I have consistently tried, through various didactic means, to make visible the practice and experience of photography. I believe that the history of photography is not just a story of images, but also of people, spaces and objects.


Zoë Tousignant is a photography historian specializing in 20th-century and contemporary photography produced in Quebec and Canada. She joined the McCord Museum’s curatorial team in 2016 and was named Associate Curator, Photography, in 2018. In close collaboration with photographer Gabor Szilasi, she curated the exhibition Gabor Szilasi: The Art World in Montreal, 1960-1980, presented in 2017–2018. In 2019, she edited a book based on the same body of work, produced by the McCord Museum in collaboration with McGill-Queen’s University Press. She previously acted as Assistant Editor on the book Notman, A Visionary Photographer, published in 2016 by the McCord Museum to accompany the exhibition of the same name.

Zoë Tousignant holds a PhD in Art History from Concordia University and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leeds, UK. Her doctoral research, which was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, focussed on the use of photography in popular illustrated magazines published in Montreal and Toronto during the interwar period. Her subsequent research has continued to examine print culture as a vital form of dissemination for photography in Canada.

Before joining the McCord Museum’s team, Zoë Tousignant worked as an independent curator and as a curator at the contemporary art library Artexte. She believes that the McCord Museum’s photography collection offers a fantastic opportunity to engage with the medium in all its facets—as art, propaganda, memorial device, social documentation, scientific data, and more. For her, the collection itself is proof of how the history of photography should be written.

Zoë Tousignant is a member of the FRQSC-funded research group Formes actuelles de l’expérience photographique: épistémologies, pratiques, histoires, which is based at Concordia University, the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Université de Montréal and Université Laval.



“Gabor’s Art World.” In Gabor Szilasi: The Art World in Montreal, 1960-1980, edited by Zoë Tousignant, 20-25. Montreal: McCord Museum, in collaboration with McGill-Queen’s University Press, in press September 2019.

“Revisiter/Revisiting.” In Serge Clément : Archipel, 5-9. Paris; Montreal: Éditions Loco; Occurrence, 2018.

The Material Conditions of a Conceptual Artwork.” In Bill Vazan. All over la planète, edited by Marie J. Jean, 27-31. Montreal: VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine, 2018.

 Canadian Photography Magazines, 1970-1990: Reconsidering a History of Photography in Print. Exhibition pamphlet. Montreal: Artexte, 2016.

“Reading Ciel variable: The Magazine as Site of Photographic History.” Ciel variable online (Fall 2015):

“Campeau, Carrière, Clément: Accumulations.” In Campeau, Carrière, Clément: Accumulations. 3–14. Montreal: Éditions Simon Blais, 2015.

“Forgotten Photography: The Case of Béla F. Egyedi.” Ciel variable 99 (Winter 2015): 54-63.

La Revue populaire et Le Samedi – Objets de diffusion de la modernité photographique au Québec, 1935-1945.” Revue de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec 5 (2013) online publication.

“Jules-Ernest Livernois : Le regard moderne d’un photographe.” In Québec, une ville et ses artistes, edited by Yves Lacasse and Denis Castonguay, 202-213. Québec: Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, 2008.

 “Relocating the Vernacular: The Yves Beauregard Collection at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.” In Archivaria: The Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists 65 (Summer 2008): 61-73.


“Comment se fabrique Le Samedi”: The Ephemeral Photographic Image at Work,” conference of the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC), Concordia University, November 1-3, 2012.

“Reproducing the Modern: Photography and Canadian Illustrated Magazines in the 1920s and 1930s,” Photographie, mobilité et intermédialité workshop, Université de Montréal and CRI – Centre de recherche sur l’intermédialité, April 9, 2011.

“Make it New(s): Photographic Modernism and the Representation of Contemporaneity in The Canadian Magazine,” Imaginaires du présent: photographie, politique et poétique de l’actualité conference, Université du Québec à Montréal, October 22-23, 2010.

“Relocating the Vernacular: From the Private Collection to the Museum of Fine Arts,” Images of Society: Variable Trajectories symposium, McCord Museum, September 20, 2007.

Not to be missed!