The photography collection encompasses over 1,309,000 photographs that primarily document the social history of Montreal, as well as that of Quebec and Canada. From a series of daguerreotypes created in the 1840s to modern digital images, this collection spans numerous time periods.

The Notman Photographic Archives constitute the heart of the collection with some 450,000 photographs from the Montreal studio founded in 1856 by William Notman (1826-1891) and run by his sons until 1935 under the name Wm. Notman & Son.

Comprised of glass negatives and original prints, stereograms, composites and painted photographs, this part of the collection depicts Canada’s growth during the latter half of the 19th century, Montreal’s leading role in its social and economic development, westward expansion and the construction of the transcontinental railway.

The collection also contains thousands of photographs grouped together in albums, series and portfolios, created by professionals, amateurs and artists, including vernacular photographs and images of First Peoples.As a complement to these photographs, the Museum owns a number of cameras and accessories that illustrate the technical evolution of photography, along with viewing devices like stereoscopes, magic lanterns and modern projectors that demonstrate how photography was used in Canada.