The Canadian Museum of Civilization contains several major permanent galleries, including the Grand Hall, showcasing the aboriginal cultures of the Pacific Coast; the Canadian Postal Museum; the Canadian Children's Museum; a 500-seat theatre for live performances and lectures, and CINÉPLUS, the world's first combined IMAX/OMNIMAX theatre. Other features include numerous temporary exhibitions galleries; the First Peoples Hall, showcasing the enduring traditions of First Peoples; and the Canada Hall, featuring a millennium of Canadian history through life-sized streetscapes and period enviroments - including a Ukrainian Catholic church rebuilt and reconsecrated within the Hall. Containing more exhibition space than any other museum or art gallery in Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization boasts 25 000 m2 (269 000 ft2) of exhibition space. In total, the complex houses more than a dozen exhibition spaces, 3 750 000 artifacts, two theatres, four boutiques, three restaurants, and over 500 employees.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation also encompasses the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, showcasing Canada's military heritage and featuring frequent commemorative ceremonies of national significance.
Committed to the principles of museological excellence, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has a mandate to "increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of and appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behavior." Building on a rich tradition of scholarship and innovation, the Museum continues to study and interpret human history, with a particular emphasis on the culture and heritage of Canada's many peoples.
Canadian Museum of Civilization History
The institutional roots of the Canadian Museum of Civilization are older than CONFEDERATION, dating back to 1841, when Queen Victoria granted £1500 for the "creation of the Geological and Natural History Survey of the Province of Canada" (see GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF CANADA). The survey was originally located in Montréal, and scholars spread out across Canada collecting geological, archaeological and biological material. In 1877 an Act of Parliament ensured the continued existence of the survey, which had broadened the collection base to include botanical, zoological and ethnographic specimens and artifacts. In 1910, a new ANTHROPOLOGY division was established under the direction of Edward SAPIR, which included two sections in charge of archaeological and ethnological fieldwork. Since 1911 the museum has been a centre for research in Canadian anthropology. When fire destroyed most of the Parliament Buildings in 1916, however, the Parliament of Canada was housed in the museum building and the collections put in storage until 1920.
In 1927 the Geological Survey became the National Museum of Canada, encompassing national collections of human history and natural history. By 1956 the National Museum of Canada had been subdivided, and 12 years later, under the 1968 National Museums Act, The NATIONAL MUSEUMS OF CANADA Corporation was established, comprising the NATIONAL GALLERY, the National Museum of Man (including the Canadian War Museum), the CANADIAN MUSEUM OF NATURE and the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (and its National Aeronautical Collection), the National Museum of Man and the National Museum of Natural Sciences. The National Museum of Man and the Canadian Museum of Nature continued to share the same building in Ottawa.
In 1982 the Canadian government announced its intention to house the National Museum of Man in a new building in Hull, Quebec.
Canadian War Museum History
The Canadian War Museum was already separately housed in a building on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. In 1942 the Canadian War Museum, established in 1880 but in storage since 1897, had been formally inaugurated in the War Trophies building. The CWM became a division of the National Museum of Canada in 1958, and expanded significantly when it took over the old Public Archives of Canada building in 1967.
In 1989 the Canadian Museum of Civilization opened a new facility in Hull, Québec. Internationally recognized as one of the world's modern architectural wonders, the complex was designed by architect Douglas CARDINAL to reflect enduring features of the Canadian landscape. The world's largest indoor collection of TOTEM POLES is housed in the facility's dazzling Grand Hall, which has also been the site of numerous high-profile receptions for visiting heads of state.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization complex was constructed over a six-year period, from 1983 to 1989, and comprises a 75 000 m2 structure, located on a 9.5 ha site. The roof of its public Glacier Wing is built of nearly 11 000 m2, or 90 tonnes, of Canadian copper, covering the building with more copper than on any other structure in the world. The exterior walls of the complex are faced with 30 000 m2 of Tyndall limestone quarried in Manitoba - enough to build 460 bungalows. The infrastructure is constructed of 56 000 m2 of cement, or enough for 8500 truckloads, as well as 7300 tonnes of steel - or about three-quarters the weight used to build the Eiffel Tower. The OMNIMAX dome inside CINÉPLUS is 23 m in diameter, and weighs 8.6 tonnes; the IMAX screen towers over five stories high.
To support its state-of-the-art electrical and communications systems, the complex also contains 800 000 km of wiring and fibre optic cabling - enough to wrap around Earth's equator 20 times - and the 5000 km fibre optic cable network is one of the longest of any non-military building in the world.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization Today
In 1990 the museum became a crown corporation and changed its name to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Today, with a staff of over 500, the CMC is acknowledged as a museological institution of international stature. There are four research-oriented divisions: the ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF CANADA, the Canadian Ethnological Service, the Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies (see FOLKLORE) and the History Division. Staff researchers carry out an average 80 research projects per year related to Canada's diverse cultural communities, and staff-written monographs and papers have contributed greatly to the amassed knowledge of various world cultures. Extensive artifact and archival collections provide the basis for a strong exhibitions programme, which produces an average 15 full exhibitions a year on subjects as diverse as the PRE-DORSET CULTURE and painted furniture of French Canada. The CMC's active travelling exhibition programme also ensures that its expertise is shared with institutions across the country and around the world, and recent CMC exhibitions have appeared in Venice, France and the US.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization was designed for the modern world, and has a multimedia capability unprecedented among museums. Audio enhancements, video, virtual reality, 3-D modelling, live performance, lectures and workshops are only a few of the many ways in which the Museum's exhibitions and programming are made vital and relevant to today's demanding visitors. The Museum also brings its store of knowledge to Canadians living outside the national capital area - creating travelling exhibitions which tour to museums across Canada and around the world, and co-producing television specials for domestic and international broadcast.
Electronic outreach is also vital. The Museum's World Wide Web site contains over 9000 pages of information, and has won international awards for both content and presentation. The Museum produces award-winning interactive CD-ROMs, and reaches out to younger audiences across the country through initiatives like the CyberMentor project, which links schoolchildren to curators through SchoolNet. The Museum also produces photo-CDs, and to this end has digitized nearly 200 000 images of artifacts and field photographs. The CMC also administers the world's first entirely virtual museum: the bilingual Virtual Museum of New France.
Author PIERRE PONTBRIAND
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Museum of History
The Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) offers an extensive collection of online exhibits about Canadian history and culture.
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Click on "Glossary" to access this multilingual glossary for art librarians. In English with indexes in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish. From the website for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
Written in Stone
This multimedia tour of the Canadian Museum of Civilization features extensive commentary about the design, development, and construction of this landmark building in Gatineau, Quebec. A great resource for students interested in architecture.
Douglas J. Cardinal Architect Ltd
View illustrations of architectural projects designed by Douglas J. Cardinal Architect Ltd. Renowned for “living organic” building designs, such as the acclaimed Canadian Museum Of Civilization.
Northern People, Northern Knowledge
An exceptional collection of rare film clips, photographs and documents from the controversial Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1918, the first multi-disciplinary scientific expedition to the Canadian Arctic. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Moriyama & Teshima Architects
The website for Moriyama & Teshima Architects. Features an overview of their many Canadian and international projects, including the Ontario Science Centre and the Canadian War Museum.
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.
Canadian Archaeological Association
The website for the Canadian Archaeological Association. Offers abstracts of articles from the "Canadian Journal of Archaeology," online access to the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database, an introduction to radiocarbon dating, and more.
A CBC obituary for Second World War veteran, journalist, diplomat, and educator Gordon Hamilton Southam, who founded Ottawa's National Arts Centre and helped create the Canadian War Museum.
Collections of the CWM: A Historical Resource
This article provides an overview of the Canadian War Museum collection. From the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University.
National Museum collection
A fascinating feature about the historical role of the Geological Survey of Canada in the development of Canada's large national museums. From Library and Archives Canada.
Facebook: Virtual Museum of Canada - Teachers' Centre
Join the conversation about the latest digital learning resources at the Virtual Museum of Canada.