Canadian Museum of History

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Canadian Museum of History
Gatineau - QC - Museum of Civilisation3.jpg
Established 1856
Location Gatineau, Quebec
Type Human and cultural history
Visitors 1,300,000[1]
Director Mark O'Neill[2]
Website www.civilization.ca
Canadian Museum of History Corporation network

The Canadian Museum of History (French: Musée canadien de l’histoire, formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) is Canada's national museum of human history.[3] It is located in the Hull area of Gatineau, Quebec, directly across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. The museum's primary purpose is to collect, study, preserve, and present material objects that illuminate the human history of Canada and the cultural diversity of its people. In October 2012, it was announced that the museum would be renamed from the Canadian Museum of Civilization to the Canadian Museum of History, with an increased focus on Canadian history and people.[4][5] The name change became official when the Canadian Museum of History Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2013, with changes to the museum's visual identity implemented gradually over the course of the following months.[6][7][8]

The Museum of History's permanent galleries explore Canada's 20,000 years of human history and a program of special exhibitions expands on Canadian themes and explore other cultures and civilizations, past and present. The museum is also a major research institution. Its staff includes leading experts in Canadian history, archaeology, ethnology, folk culture, and more.[9]

With roots stretching back to 1856, the Museum is one of North America's oldest cultural institutions.[10] It is also home to the Canadian Children's Museum,[11] and an IMAX Theatre with 3D capacity.[12] It was previously also home to the Canadian Postal Museum.[13]

The Museum of History is managed by the Canadian Museum of History Corporation, a federal Crown Corporation that is also responsible for the Canadian War Museum, the Children's Museum and the Virtual Museum of New France. The Museum is a member of the Canadian Museums Association.[14]

The museum was designed by Douglas Cardinal, a famous Aboriginal architect educated at the University of British Columbia, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Permanent Exhibitions[edit]

The Museum has three permanent exhibition galleries:[15] the Grand Hall,[16] the First Peoples Hall,[17] and the Canada Hall.

Grand Hall[edit]

Grand Hall

The Grand Hall on the building's first level is the Museum's architectural centrepiece. It features a wall of windows 112 m (367 ft) wide by 15 m (49 ft) high, framing a view of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. On the opposite wall is a colour photograph of similar size. It captures a forest scene and is believed to be the largest colour photograph in the world.[16]

The picture provides a backdrop for a dozen towering totem poles and recreations of six Pacific Coast Aboriginal house facades connected by a boardwalk. The homes were made by First Nations artisans using large cedar timbers imported from the Pacific Northwest. The grouping of totem poles, combined with others in the Grand Hall, is said to be the largest indoor display of totem poles in the world.[18]

The Grand Hall also houses the original plaster pattern for the colossal Spirit of Haida Gwaii, the largest and most complex sculpture ever created by the celebrated Haida artist Bill Reid. The pattern was used to cast the bronze sculpture displayed outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C..

Located at the end of the Grand Hall, by the river, is a 19 m (62 ft) diameter dome. On the dome is the 418 m2 (4,500 sq ft) abstract painting known as Morning Star.[19] The painting, by Alex Janvier a Dene Suline artist, and, with the assistance of his son Dean, was completed in four months in 1993.

First Peoples Hall[edit]

Spirit of Haida Gwaii, plaster original

Also on the Museum's first level, this permanent exhibition narrates the history and accomplishments of Canada's Aboriginal peoples from their original habitation of North America to the present day. It explores the diversity of the First Peoples, their interactions with the land, and their on-going contributions to society. The Hall is the result of a groundbreaking, intensive collaboration that occurred between Museum curators and First Peoples representatives during the planning stages.

Chronicling 20,000 years of history, the Hall is separated into three larger zones:

"An Aboriginal Presence" looks at Aboriginal cultural diversity, achievements and prehistoric settlement of North America. Included are traditional stories about creation and other phenomena told by Aboriginal people such as Mi'kmaq Hereditary Chief Stephen Augustine who recounts the beginning of the world in the Creation Stories Theatre film.

"An Ancient Bond with the Land" examines the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the natural world.

"Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years" examines Aboriginal history from the time of European contact to today. It examines early relations, the Métis, the clash of Christianity and Aboriginal beliefs, intergovernmental relations, the introduction of a wage economy, and post-War political and legal affirmation and civil rights. It also features a ten minute video about sustaining Aboriginal culture, and introduces visitors to Native art.

Canada Hall[edit]

The Quilt of Belonging in the museum's collections, the largest work of textile art made about Canada

Canada Hall occupies most of the building's third level. Presented as a "streetscape," it invites the visitor to stroll through hundreds of years of Canadian history beginning with the arrival of Viking explorers: the first non-Aboriginal people known to have set foot on what is today Canadian soil. The journey starts on the East Coast circa 1000 AD and then moves westward through time, following Canada’s development from coast to coast. Along the way, visitors learn about the various waves of immigration that arrived on Canada's shores, the resources and opportunities that drew the newcomers, the discrimination and hardships that some new Canadians encountered, and the contributions all immigrant groups have made to their new country.

Highlights in Canada Hall include numerous life-size recreations, ranging from the interior of a Basque whaling ship circa 1560, to an airport lounge circa 1970. Other exhibits include a New France farmhouse; a stretch of main street, typical of an early Ontario town; an actual Ukrainian church that once stood in Alberta and was moved in its entirety to the museum; and a 10-metre (33 ft) long fishing boat that once operated off the coast of British Columbia.

History[edit]

The home of the museum from 1881 to 1910 was the Geological Survey of Canada Building
The Victoria Memorial Museum building housed the museum from 1910 to 1989
The museum's facilities since 1989

The museum was first founded in 1856 as the display hall for the Geological Survey of Canada, which was accumulating not only minerals, but biological specimens, and historical and ethnological artifacts. Originally located in Montreal the museum was moved to Ottawa in 1881.[20] In 1910, upon recommendation from Franz Boas, the anthropologist-linguist Edward Sapir was appointed as the first anthropologist in the newly formed anthropology division of the museum. Soon after, the anthropologists Diamond Jenness and Marius Barbeau were hired. In 1910, now named the National Museum of Canada, it moved into the brand-new Victoria Memorial Museum Building on Metcalfe Street in downtown Ottawa. The National Gallery of Canada also occupied half a floor in the building. In 1968, the museum was split into the Museum of Nature and the Museum of Man, but both remained squeezed into the same building. In 1982, Pierre Trudeau's government announced that the Museum of Man would be moved to its own separate facility in Hull.

In response to criticisms that "Museum of Man" could be interpreted as gender-biased in light of modern sensibilities, a competition was launched in 1986 to find a new name. The National Museum of Man became the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In 1989, the museum moved into the new facility. At the time of its opening, the cost of the museum had ballooned from an initial estimate of approximately $80 million to approximately $340 million. Despite initial criticisms of the perceived Disneyfication of the museum, its enormous costs, unique architecture, and unfinished exhibits from many quarters (including the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney), the museum soon became a major tourist attraction and was embraced by different political factions as a national symbol of "a pluralistic, multicultural society."[21] In 2005, the museum attracted 1,396,000 visitors[22] but attendance had fallen to 1.2 million in 2010.[23]

The name of the museum was changed in 2013 to the Canadian Museum of History.[7] The new name was accompanied by a change in purpose for the institution, namely an increased focus on Canadian history. Prior to December 12, 2013, the Museums Act had established the purpose of the prior Canadian Museum of Civilization as:[24]

The purpose of the Canadian Museum of Civilization is to increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of and appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behavior by establishing, maintaining and developing for research and posterity a collection of objects of historical or cultural interest, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, and by demonstrating those achievements and behaviour, the knowledge derived from them and the understanding they represent.

The Museums Act was amended on December 12, 2013 to provide a new purpose for the newly named Canadian Museum of History:[6][25]

The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.

Main architectural elements of the museum exterior[edit]

The museum complex consists of two wings, the public and curatorial wings, surrounded by a series of plazas connected by a grand staircase. Naturalized park areas connect the museum and its plazas to the Ottawa River and nearby Jacques Cartier Park.[26]

Presidents and CEOs[edit]

Years Director
1968–1983 Dr. William E. Taylor
1983–1998 Dr. George F. MacDonald
1999–2000 Joe Geurts (acting)
2000–2011 Dr. Victor Rabinovitch
2011 David Loye (acting)
2011– Mark O'Neill

Affiliations[edit]

The Museum is affiliated with: Canadian Museums Association (CMA), Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), and Virtual Museum of Canada.

Further reading[edit]

  • Christy Vodden, Ian Dyck (2006). A world inside: a 150-year history of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, Gatineau. ISBN 0-660-19558-5. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Canadian Museum of Civilization" (in French). The Canadian Museum of Civilization. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "The President and CEO". The Canadian Museum of Civilization. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Canada's most visited museum celebrates 150th anniversary" (Press release). The Canadian Museum of Civilization. 10 May 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2006. 
  4. ^ LeBlanc, Daniel (12 October 2012), "Museum of Civilization to get new focus", The Globe and Mail, retrieved 17 October 2012 
  5. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage (16 October 2012). "Announcement from the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages: Harper Government to Create the Canadian Museum of History". The Canadian Museum of Civilization. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Bill C7: An Act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts". LEGISinfo. Parliament of Canada. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Butler, Don (12 December 2013). "Hello, Canadian Museum of History". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Canadian Museum of History is official". Media Release. Canadian Museum of History. 13 December 2013. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Pontbriand, Pierre. "The Canadian Encyclopedia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  10. ^ see: Canadian Museum of Civilization Institutional History; and Vodden, C. and Dyck, I. A World Inside: A 150-year history of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, 2006
  11. ^ "Canadian Children's Museum" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  12. ^ "IMAX Theatre with 3D capacity" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  13. ^ "The Canadian Postal Museum is now closed". Canadian Postal Museum. Government of Canada. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Canadian Museum Association". Museums.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  15. ^ "Permanent Exhibitions" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  16. ^ a b "Grand Hall" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  17. ^ "First Peoples Hall" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  18. ^ Civilization.ca - Annual Report 1995-1996 - Research[dead link]
  19. ^ "Morning Star" (in French). Civilization.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  20. ^ "Canadian Museum of Civilization - Institutional History". Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. 29 December 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  21. ^ Gillam, Robyn (2001). Hall of Mirrors: Museums and the Canadian Public. Banff, AB: The Banff Centre. ISBN 0-920159-85-0.
  22. ^ "2005-2006 Annual Report". Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. Government of Canada. 
  23. ^ Gessell, Paul (October 12, 2011). "PROFILE: Talking plans with Canadian Museum of Civilization CEO Mark O’Neill". Ottawa Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "Section 8, Museums Act (S.C. 1990, c. 3)". Justice Laws Website. Department of Justice. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  25. ^ "Full text of BILL C-7: An Act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts". Parliament of Canada. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  26. ^ "Exterior Features and Landscaping". Written in the Stone: An Architectural Tour of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Canadian Museum of Civilization. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°25′47″N 075°42′32″W / 45.42972°N 75.70889°W / 45.42972; -75.70889