Marie-Anne Gagnon is the Curator at the MEM (the former Centre d’histoire de Montréal), a municipal cultural space that tells the stories of Montrealers and celebrates their diverse identities. Her work consists in managing, conserving and promoting museum collections comprised of artefacts, photos and oral history interviews.
Marie-Anne previously worked as a freelance public historian, providing research and archival services to museums, governmental institutions and universities. In 2014, she co-founded Staging Our Histories, a performance arts collective that showcases local and family stories. As an oral historian, she interviewed twenty-two Montrealers about their neighbourhood memories for an outdoors exhibition, La ville suspendue : Le McCord raconte Montréal, and was the Centre d’histoire de Montréal’s Oral History Archivist for three years. Marie-Anne has been a COHDS affiliate since 2012 and served as the Centre’s interim Associate Director in 2017.
Marie-Anne studies and loves neighbourhood and community memories, food history, as well as post-colonial and participatory museology. She holds an Honours B.A. in History from Université de Montréal and an M.A. in Public History from Carleton University. Her Master’s research essay, “A Recipe for Colonialism”: Representations of Aboriginal Peoples in 1960s Canadian Cookbooks, explored how settler Canadians appropriated Indigenous foods to construct a national identity. A baker and a cook, she loves food because it is embedded in rituals, and tells stories about who we are as individuals in a web of family, community and intercultural connections.
Her current oral history research, in collaboration with historian Amélie Masson-Labonté, explores the history of Montreal’s marché Jean-Talon and this iconic public market’s neighbourhood, Little Italy. Their project aims to record the memories of clients, merchants and local residents to draw of portrait of this well-loved, but under-documented place of fresh flavours, cultural exchange, and seasonal colours.