an award-winning children’s exhibition

Charlesbourg – The City of Quebec has revealed the winners of its 10e 2024 Heritage Prize this week. Three heritage categories are rewarded: conservation and preservation of buildings, transmission of traditions and historical interpretation and dissemination. The winner of this last category offers a very original museum activity: a historical museum for children at the Moulin des Jésuites in Charlesbourg.

By Florence Bordeleau

The Jesuit Mill in the spotlight

In the “Interpretation and dissemination” category, the prize was awarded to the Corporation du Moulin des Jésuites for its project “Children’s history museum, permanent exhibition The turnkey mill “. The jury highlighted the originality of this project and the approach proposed to introduce children aged 5 to 12 to the architecture and heritage of Trait-Carré in Charlesbourg in a fun and interactive way. It is also a historic activity designed specifically for the young audience who won this prize, in 2022, i.e. the project Pop-Ville.

(Photo: virtual tour of the Turnkey Windmill exhibition)

A unique permanent exhibition in Canada

“Before, our weak point was our permanent exhibition, which was very classic (text panels, sober colors). It did not at all meet the needs of our visitors, who were mainly families,” admits Delphine Delmas, general manager of the Moulin. The new permanent exhibition, launched in July 2023, which has just won the heritage prize, presents a scenography 100% suitable for families. “There is no other children’s history museum in Canada. The historical subject, worked with historians, and the archive images are treated in a fun way,” underlines Ms. Delmas with pride. This is the 2e prize won by this exhibition: in November 2023, it won the Prize for Excellence in Heritage Interpretation from the Quebec Association of Heritage Interpreters (AQIP).

Unlocking the history of Charlesbourg, one key at a time

The concept of the exhibition revolves around the idea of ​​opening: opening doors, drawers, trapdoors, history. The director of the mill explains that “visitors walk around with a set of three large keys which each have a personality (the first is interested in the people who lived in the mill, the second is interested in dates and events, and the third is interested in fun facts). Everything is mechanical, we haven’t focused on digital. » Children are therefore encouraged to take concrete actions such as assembling gears, and to interact with the past. “People who come to the Moulin like to have a connection with meaning. The mill is made of wood, it smells great, and people tell us so. So we tried to use all our senses for this permanent exhibition. »

The mechanical aspect is taken advantage of. (Photo: virtual tour of the Turnkey Windmill exhibition)

Local families involved by the Mill

Archive images of the Trait-Carré origin families are included in the museum tour. Thus, residents of Charlesbourg, who were children in the 50s and 60s, talk about what life was like for young people at the time. We can also observe objects from family collections, linked to different trades (farmers, shoemakers, etc.)

A great success

According to Ms. Delmas, people are there every weekend, and every week the schools come on field trips.

In addition, the Mill offers workshops that make bread, knitting, crochet, corn husk dolls, and others. The exhibition will still be there for at least 7 or 8 years.

Official visual of the exhibition

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