Once again this year, the Frédéric Janssoone Museum in Trois-Rivières (Quebec) had a strong summer season. Peak season ended with around the same attendance as last year: around 2,500 visitors who were interested in learning more about this Franciscan who was beatified in 1988.
According to Marie-Hélène Saint-Yves, director of the Museum since 2018, groups make up around 35 to 40% of visitors. For example, she mentions a group from Guadeloupe and another from Las Vegas who came through the Museum doors this summer. In September, a group from the city of Lille in the north of France (the area where Father Frédéric was born) rounded off the list of international visitors in 2019.
Furthermore, we can see that the number of individual visitors is growing. Another interesting point: more and more young adults are visiting the site. Ms. Saint-Yves notes, “I have noticed that visitors are becoming more interested in their past, in their history. A visit to the Museum awakens in them a sense of nostalgia.” She explains, “I often hear people mention that they came here when they were children.” She adds that she is welcoming more and more student groups during the school year.
The believer who has a great devotion to Father Frédéric probably spends less time in the Museum than in the adjoining chapel, which houses his tomb. Still today, some visitors are strongly attracted to the spiritual aspect of Blessed Father Frédéric’s work. “For some people, there is clearly a search for meaning” in coming to the site.
Wanting to continually refresh the exhibition, the director made some wonderful discoveries by delving into the archives. “I found a sketch of the first Commissariat of the Holy Land, which I incorporated into the exhibition. This allowed us to highlight the 100th anniversary of the Commissariat’s move to Ottawa.” Father Frédéric’s testimony on the Miracle of the Eyes was added to the exhibition, as was the testimony of the only witness to the Mysterious Crossing.
In cooperation with the board of directors, Ms. Saint-Yves is reviewing the Museum’s mission in order to adapt it and update its approach and activities. “Based on the discussions we have had up to now, the Museum intends to focus more on preserving and handing down the memory of Father Frédéric, his work and his legacy, as well as spreading the word about the Franciscans’ history and spiritual heritage.”
The new additions to the collection, along with the development of new projects, demonstrate the Museum’s ability to adapt and to reinvent itself. In showing its vitality in this way, the Frédéric Janssoone Museum is light years away from being a place that is frozen in time. It is a place that tells a story: our story.
The Museum is open to the public from June to September. For a visit at other times of the year, a reservation is needed.