Canada’s National Museums: A Reflection of Who We Are

During a recent meeting of the national museum CEOs, we discussed ways to engage and inspire our visitors. This discussion was in the context of how to help people understand the role and value of our national museums. For example, Why art? Why history? Why nature? These are good questions that visitors and taxpayers should ask us when we seek support for our programs.

The Canadian Museum of Nature.

Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

Our group believes it is because the subject matter covered in each of our national museums is something that is core to the Canadian value system. Canada’s national museums are a demonstration by the Government of Canada of what we value as a country.

Art, history, science and innovation, immigration, human rights and nature—our interest in these subjects is a reflection of who we are, and they form the foundation from which we will determine our future

For me, that is pretty powerful and something that I am honoured and proud to be a part of.

As we all gear up for the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we have an opportunity to reflect on our country, on our place in an increasingly global context and our future in a 21st-century connected world. The more global our world becomes, the more we need to understand our place in that world. Museums help us understand our place in the world. Where we fit in. How we can contribute. What matters.

In a world where facts are readily available on every smartphone, the new challenge for museums is to provide the means to explore relevant subjects through interesting stories and meaningful context. Museums play an increasingly important role in providing a place where we can be wowed and inspired, where we can gain knowledge and understanding, and where we can socialize and connect with each other through shared experiences. This notion of museums as a “place” is nothing new. It is just more important and more needed than ever before.

Canada’s birthday is a time to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in this great country. It is also a time to reflect on what our country values, as demonstrated by its ongoing investments in our national museums: art, history, science and innovation, immigration, human rights and of course… nature.

It is great to be Canadian. Happy Canada Day.

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