By Alex P. Vidal
OTTAWA, Ontario – As one of the many measures in preparation for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, the Canadian federal government has announced that it is creating a Museum of Canadian History.
The government will introduce legislation to give the Canadian Museum of Civilization both a new name and a new mandate, reported Susan Munroe of About.com Guide. “The Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation manages the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum, although the Canadian War Museum has its own building at a different location,” she added.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is located in Gatineau, Quebec, across the Ottawa River, overlooking the Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. The museum grounds cover about 9.6 hectares (24 acres). The current museum building was opened in 1989, and has about 1.3 million visitors every year.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization was the Canadian Museum of Man before 1989, and its mandate includes the responsibility for increasing interest, knowledge and understanding of human cultural achievements, with a special, but not exclusive, reference to Canada. In announcing the changes, James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, said that “Canadians deserve a national museum of history that tells our stories and presents our country’s treasures to the world.” About 50,000 square feet of public gallery space will be renovated to highlight Canadian achievements, accomplishments and artefacts that have shaped the Canadian identity. The new emphasis will come at the expense of some international exhibitions and a more general emphasis on anthropology. The First Peoples Hall and the Canadian Children’s Museum will remain.
NETWORKING WITH MUSEUMS ACROSS CANADA
The new museum will also be working on a new process to link the network of history museums across Canada to the Museum of Canadian History, so Canadians in all regions will have better access to our history. It will mean developing partnerships for exchanges that work two ways.
LOOKING FOR INPUT FROM CANADIANS
The government will be looking for input from Canadians across the country on the major themes, events, and accomplishments that have shaped Canada.
An online forum called My History Museum has been set up to gather suggestions. You can take the quick survey, and you are also asked to offer suggestions in six key areas: What is the Canadian Story? Stories and Objects
Who Has Shaped Our Country? Reaching Canadians Everywhere; Making the Museum Work for Everyone; Whose Perspective Would You Use?
Museum officials will also be travelling across the country from October 2012 to January 2013 to hear from Canadians in person. You can reserve a spot at one of these consultation events by filling in the form at the bottom of the My History Museum page.
The estimated cost of the museum transformation is $25 million, according to the initial announcement. That is not new money. It will come from the existing Department of Canadian Heritage budget. There is no indication what will be cut to find it though. The government also says it will be working on fundraising activities to get support from the private sector.
CELEBRATING CANADIAN HISTORY
You’ll see a lot more emphasis in the next few years as the federal government puts the spotlight on Canadian history and identity. Some of the celebrations in the works are
Canada Commemorate the War of 1812 (for 2-1/2 years)
100th anniversary of the Grey Cup on November 15, 2012
100th anniversary of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1918
in 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Quebec and Charlottetown conferences on Canadian Confederation
And all lead up to Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.