Editorial Exchange: Canada's History Museum

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Canada's history museum

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Oct. 22:

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is getting a new name and a fresh mandate to educate Canadians about their history and national identity.

The Canadian Museum of History, as the institution in Gatineau, Que., will now be known, will be more sharply focused on the country's past, with stories that explain how a land that was once dismissed as "a few acres of ice" developed into a unique, wealthy and influential country.

The previous title was vague, as was the museum's mission, which seemed to include multiple trajectories and themes, everything from postal history to natural science and exhibits on butterflies.

When the redevelopment is complete, visitors will know they are taking a trip into the past, but the goal is also to help Canadians understand the present.

The changes may upset those who dislike change, but the refocus is merely the latest in a series of changes in title and function in the museum's long history as a repository of national treasure and knowledge.

The museum traces its lineage to 1856 when the Province of Canada established the Geological Museum.

It eventually evolved into a national repository for flora and fauna, ancient human history, languages and cultural artifacts. After more changes, it became known as the National Museum of Man, and then the Museum of Civilization in 1986. …