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What do museums mean to you?

A partnership of Canadian museum organizations has come together to spark a national conversation about the value of museums and wants to hear from you.

Take our survey

Be Heard – Participate in a Dialogue Session on the Future of Museums

Contribute to the important conversation about what museums need to do to continue serving our communities for generations to come.

We are actively seeking new voices and diverse perspectives to ensure that this dialogue is rich and multifaceted. We would love to hear from you.

Session overview:

  • When: Four sessions will be offered between December 3 and 10, 2020. Choose the one that works best for you. If you require CART captioning accommodation, we will be offering this in our evening session on December 8
  • Where: Zoom
  • Time commitment: 2 hours
  • Registration is required
  • A small honorarium will be offered to participants in thanks for their participation and contribution to this engagement process.

Agenda:

  • Thought starters: Short presentation on emerging trends from Dr. Victoria Dickenson, PhD, a consultant to the Museums for Me project with more than 40 years of museums sector and research expertise.
  • Group dialogue: Exploring two big questions – 1) What does the museum of the future need to be to deliver the most value to our communities? 2) How do we get there?

Why this is important

There are all kinds of museums across Canada, and how we experience and value them is very personal. Please share your perspective to help museums sustain and grow their positive impact in our communities and in a changing world.

What do you love about museums and want to see more of? How do they need to evolve to better meet your needs and serve Canadians into the future? Help us answer these important questions.

The first conversations about this project took place in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic affected how Canadians enjoy museums. Now is the right time to engage on the value and future of museums in Canada.

Museums in action

From coast-to-coast-to-coast, museums are engaging and serving their communities in meaningful and innovative ways.

We’re proud to share some inspiring examples to get you thinking about what museums mean to you, and to all Canadians.

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Museum of Surrey, B.C.

Museums are more than a space to house artifacts. Museums effect change within communities.

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Museum of Surrey, B.C.

Museums are more than a space to house artifacts. Museums effect change within communities.

A three-year Punjabi community engagement project, an initiative by Museum of Surrey, has been nominated for a 2020 BCMA Outstanding Achievement Award, Excellence in Community Engagement.

The centrepiece of the project was carried out by the Punjabi Advisory Committee (PAC) and aimed to build bridges between Punjabis and non-Punjabis. Beyond facts and figures, the exhibit shared the authentic voices of the Punjabi community to break down negative stereotypes and effect real change within the community. Through this effort, the PAC was able to use the museum as a platform to reach thousands of Surrey residents.

The initiative was especially unique in its approach to developing community-led exhibits. The stories were told in the community’s way, with their words and in their language. The exhibit, Being Punjab: Unfolding the Surrey Story, was raw, sharing the many emotions and opinions of those within the Punjabi community. As such, visitors saw themselves reflected in the work carried out, invited their friends to participate, and engaged further with the museum in other projects.

“At Museum of Surrey we believe that when people share their personal stories of struggle and success, in their own ways, communities relate and connect with each other,” said Lynn Saffery, Museum Manager. “This builds trust and empathy, often resulting in people being empowered and feeling comfortable and safe in the places they live and call home.”

Texts found within the walls of the exhibit were shared in the style of a magazine editorial. The work set out to empower the authentic voice of Punjabi contributors through video interviews conducted by Punjabi-speaking cameramen in the interviewee’s preferred language, ensuring language was no barrier to participation. The exhibit was bilingual, in English and Gurmukhi, with selected labels in Shahmukhi. It is through these efforts that the PAC empowered community voice and refuted marginalization.

Museum exhibits can take many forms. In this case, innovation brought individual and shared experience to life, challenging perceptions, and changing the way we think about communities.

Learn more about how the Museum of Surrey is effecting change within communities. And share with us, what do museums mean to you?

Take our survey

Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village, The Nova Scotia Museum

Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village, The Nova Scotia Museum

Museums are an experience, capable of transcending both time and place.

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Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village, The Nova Scotia Museum

Museums are an experience, capable of transcending both time and place.

Baile nan Gàidheal (Highland Village), is part of the Nova Scotia Museum and operated by the Nova Scotia Highland Village Society. The outdoor living history museum and Gaelic folklife centre illustrates the story, culture and identity of Nova Scotia Gaels.

More than an exhibit in a room, the Highland Village is home to 11 historic buildings located on 43 stunning acres in Iona, Nova Scotia, the heart of Cape Breton Island. Upon arrival at the property, overlooking the majestic Bras d’Or Lake, visitors are immersed in an experience like no other, welcomed by first-person costumed animators who are passionate about sharing Gaelic culture and identity.

The language, culture and rural lifestyle of Gaels flourished in Nova Scotia throughout the 1800’s into the early 1900’s when the draw of cities, industrial jobs, railroads and an English-only school system began to pose challenges to their way of life. Through faith and determination, many in the Gaelic community maintained their language, culture, music, song and dance. These proud tradition-bearers passed their way of life down through generations by way of rich oral traditions that live on at the museum.

“Our story is an international one, rooted in the Gàidhealtachd of Scotland. Our vision is to ensure that identity and traditions of our ancestors enrich the lives of our communities and visitors today and that their wisdoms may be used to help shape our future,” said Rodney Chaisson, Director of the Highland Village.”

The museum offers Gaelic classes, educational programs, traditional music and song, and other events to nurture, communicate and celebrate Gaelic identity in Nova Scotia.

Learn more about how the Highland Village is preserving and promoting the region’s history. And share with us: what do museums mean to you?

Take our survey

Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Alberta

Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Alberta

Museums tackle important global causes and effect change in their own community.

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Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Alberta

Museums tackle important global causes and effect change in their own community.

The Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Historic Fort Normandeau has situated itself as a hub of environmental education, sustainability, and engagement with nature for the Red Deer community. Located at the entrance to the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary beside the Red Deer River, the Centre educates and engages with Red Deer residents to promote sustainability through the integration of environmental responsibility into every aspect of the site’s operations.

In an effort to balance ecological and fiscal responsibility, the Centre refers to two key questions before making any major decision:

1) Will this reduce our ecological footprint?
2) Will this save us money?

One of the Centre’s key initiatives was to move the Kerry Wood Nature Centre towards the use of solar power as its primary source of electricity. As part of its commitment to modelling environmental responsibility, the Centre tracks on its website the ways in which power is collected and how much the initiative is saving the site in terms of CO2 emissions and costs, providing a practical, understandable model to its community of the ecological and financial benefits of relying on renewable energy.

To complement its institutional efforts, the Centre works closely with other organizations in order to engage and strengthen relationships with the diverse population of Red Deer. The Centre’s partnership with Central Alberta Refuges Effort (CARE) supports new Canadians by providing space for English language classes and family programming. The Centre, with CARE, also offers overnight camping workshops to demonstrate the impact of our natural environment on our customs, culture, and community, and encourage an appreciation of nature in a safe and accessible way. A long standing collaboration with the City of Red Deer’s Sustainable Initiatives Department encourages the two organizations to share resources, collaborate on projects, and cross-promote events to wider audiences. Engaging the public through these innovative programs and partnerships instills a true appreciation of Alberta’s natural heritage, and fosters an understanding of the importance of environmentally sustainable activities.

Through its interpretation and preservation of the natural and cultural history of Red Deer and its dedication to prioritizing and exploring innovative solutions related to environmental sustainability, the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Historic Fort Normandeau demonstrates a true commitment to affecting real change. By reducing their impact on the natural environment and providing inclusive programs, the Centre helps to create a vibrant, and sustainable, community.

Learn more about how the Kerry Wood Nature Centre is promoting sustainability and strengthening its relationships with the diverse populations of Red Deer. And, share with us, what do museums mean to you?

Take our survey

Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Alberta

Biosphere, Environment Museum, Quebec

25 years of Citizen Museology

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Biosphere, Environment Museum, Quebec

Sheltered under the institution’s dome, education and environmental awareness experts have been overseeing the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge since 1995. The Biosphere is a museum anchored in its community and known to be the only museum solely dedicated to the relationship between society and the environment in North America.

The museum offers a dozen exhibitions a year. In a stimulating environment, the Biosphere also offers scientific animations helping visitors better understand environmental issues, while discovering ways of becoming more environmentally responsible citizens. By combining sharing, sensory and learning experiences, the Biosphere hopes to contribute to the development of critical thinking and increase community belonging.

Scientific animations are based on sharing with the public, where discussions with visitors are key. Each themed animation ends with a period dedicated to questions and dialogue.

Initiatives include:

  • The ObservAction network began collecting data on aquatic ecosystems as early as 1995. This forward-thinking initiative in citizen science oversaw a grouping of community organizations (Marine Mammal Observation Network, Freshwater Fish Observation Network, Adopt a River, etc.).
  • The first Montréal museum to organize a Christmas fair showcasing local and eco-responsible products.
  • Employees participating in regional science fairs such as “Women and Girls of Science.”
  • Throughout the years, the museum established its reputation in schools and distance learning. Pan-Canadian school programming was offered for a long time, and at the time, all videoconferences were prepared in the museum’s studios.
  • BioKits help explore biodiversity across the country and are developed in collaboration with the communities.
  • The MTL+ exhibition (2019-2021) is studied by both professional associations and local universities.

Photo credits: Bernard Brault, 2020.

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