Canadian Museum Policy (1990)

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© Minister of Supply and Services Canada 1990
Cat. No. Co: 22-94/1990
ISBN: 0-662-5783-0


Museums, created with care, are in a sense temples of the human spirit. Many have discovered their true calling standing before a finely wrought artifact that moved them with the unsettling power of genius.

Abbé Gregoire
Report on Bibliography, presented to the National Assembly, Germinal 22nd, Year II (1794)

Temples of the human spirit

A mature nation, proud of its history and culture, comes to know itself in the mirror of its past. Cherishing our heritage, we naturally seek ways to share it through words, pictures and electronic means of communication. But in the end, we always return to the original works of the past, the tangible artifacts of our heritage. They represent our authentic and irreplaceable link with our history.

Museums are custodians of society's collective memory. Repositories of our physical heritage, they are places where history lives on in three dimensions. Museums have evolved enormously since Ptolemy the First of Egypt originated the practice of preserving the material legacy of civilization over two thousand years ago. In a temple dedicated to the muses, he surrounded himself with objects inspiring curiosity and admiration, and attesting to humanity's achievements in the arts, letters and sciences.

For many centuries, museums took the form of portrait galleries and other collections of memorabilia preserved by the nobility and the Church. Only the privileged were able to enjoy these artifacts and works of art; the treasures of civilization were hidden away from the gaze of ordinary people.

But by the end of the eighteenth century, the people began gaining access to collections previously reserved exclusively for an elite. The public was increasingly able to experience works of art and culture that transcended social, religious or racial barriers, that crossed frontiers and cut through prejudice. The availability of these collections gradually led to the creation of public institutions for the acquisition and display of heritage objects. As growing numbers of people visited these early museums, their value became more widely appreciated. Eventually, the idea took hold that governments should take an active role in supporting heritage preservation for the benefit of all.

In Canada, the first museums had an educational purpose: to organize and transmit knowledge in the natural sciences. Later came the establishment of fine arts museums. Artists opened their studios to the public and participated in exhibitions and, towards the end of the nineteenth century, wealthy Canadian art patrons began contributing to the creation of public galleries, donating works from private collections that had taken generations to assemble.

Today, Canadians take an everincreasing interest in our heritage. Although our collections have not been damaged or dispersed by war, as have museum and gallery collections in Europe, Canadians — even those who do not visit museums — express support for protecting and housing our collections in a fitting manner. In addition, Canadians are almost unanimous in saying that museums must be accessible to the public. They expect the various levels of government to contribute to the support of museological institutions and to the communities and individuals who established them. They also expect governments to play a direct role in establishing, preserving, developing and exhibiting heritage collections.

Thus museums have evolved from being elitist shrines, sacrosanct and inaccessible, to being democratic institutions that are open to all and make a vital contribution to the cultural and scientific life of the community.

The federal government's new museum policy is described in the pages that follow. Building on the foundations of the past twenty years, the new policy extends the good work that has been done to date. This is an area of shared responsibility with the provinces; they too play a role in protecting heritage collections and supporting the museum community, and a number of provincial governments have developed their own policies in this regard. For its part, the Government of Canada will continue to act to protect major collections of national significance and to facilitate access to them by Canadians. To achieve these goals, we will take measures in such priority areas as exhibitions, conservation, information management, facilities upgrading, professional development, and aboriginal museum development.

As a result, the Government will increase its existing budgets for museums and heritage by $43 million over the next five years. This is in addition to the $10 million ($2 million per year) already reallocated from the phase-out of the Mobile Exhibits Program. Canadian museums will benefit from both funding programs and enhanced federal services to assist them in adapting to current and future realities. In serving the museum community and the Canadian public, the Department of Communications will adopt a flexible approach to administering the new policy and revised support programs. Conceived in response to Canada's size and diversity, this policy will enable us all to make closer and more tangible contact with our heritage as the twenty-first century rapidly approaches.

—Marcel Masse, Minister of Communications, June 1990

Part One


  • To foster access by present and future generations of Canadians to their human, natural, artistic, and scientific heritage and to enhance their awareness, understanding, and enjoyment of the richness of that heritage.
  • To encourage the development, management, and preservation of significant and representative museum collections in all regions of Canada.
  • To enhance excellence in museum activities in Canada through support to museological research and development and assuring service throughout Canada.


  • Partnership
  • Co-operation
  • Continuity
  • Flexibility
  • Long-term planning

Protecting Canada’s Heritage

With its new museum policy, the Government of Canada seeks to improve access for present and future generations to our human, natural, artistic and scientific heritage. To meet this goal over the next several years, the Government will support the acquisition, preservation, research, presentation and interpretation of heritage collections. By enhancing Canadians' knowledge of our rich shared past, the policy will strengthen knowledge of our distinctive present, deepening our appreciation of who we are today.

Underlying this policy is a conviction that Canadians should have access to their museum collections no matter who they are, where they live, or where they come from. Access may be gained through personal visits to exhibitions, or through museum publications; as well, contemporary audio-visual and computer technologies can now make Canadian museum collections better known across the country.

Our collections also have considerable significance as part of the worldwide heritage of humanity. Objects from Canadian collections should be displayed outside the country, just as our museums exhibit the treasures of other nations to Canadians.

The federal government recognizes the vital importance of developing, managing and preserving our collections. In partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and with the private sector, the Government will encourage efforts to preserve significant and representative collections of our heritage. As part of this process, ethnic, regional and individual perspectives require special consideration — all in a spirit of openness that sees our heritage as integral with the whole history of humanity.

Canadian museums are guided by their search for excellence. To realize their aspirations, they must be equipped with an infrastructure appropriate to their needs. Federal museum policy assists them by providing specialized museological services.

It is generally recognized that museums play an essential role in nurturing our sense of identity as a people — documenting our social and cultural development, enriching our understanding of the natural and physical sciences.

Museums are well placed to contribute to our understanding of the roles played by the aboriginal people and the two founding peoples in the development of our country. Through the presentation of bilingual travelling exhibitions across Canada, museums are a vehicle for promoting the use of our two official languages. Through the infusion of funds into rural and semi-rural localities, museums stimulate regional economic development, generating employment and enhancing tourism in all regions of the country. The diversity of our origins is also reinforced in museum exhibitions and programs.

As living witnesses to our past and dynamic participants in our present and future, Canada's museums can rely on federal support for attaining their institutional goals in serving the public. This support also extends to the several National Museums, for which the Government of Canada has exclusive responsibility, and to important heritage collections belonging to various federal departments and agencies, which will continue to be maintained.

Direct financial support to non-federal museums will be provided through the following government programs:

In addition, indirect federal support to museums will continue through the provision of income tax incentives for donations of cultural property.

The Government will also provide advisory and technical services supporting the advancement of museums. In facilitating information sharing within the museum community, the Government depends on the skills of museum professionals willing to share the results of their efforts in research and development. The following federal services will continue to be available.

The Canadian Conservation Institute provides Canadian museums with information about conserving artifacts in their collections. The Institute also undertakes research and conservation treatments of priority heritage objects and supports professional development in the area of conservation.

The Canadian Heritage Information Network will increase user access to its network of services, expand the range of its reference databases and extend its consulting services to more Canadian museums.

The Museums Assistance Program, in addition to providing financial support in various areas, will also deliver expanded advisory and technical services in the areas of museum planning, facilities design and upgrading, marketing, collections preservation, and transportation of travelling exhibitions.

The Movable Cultural Property Program will continue to provide tax credits that assist museums with acquisitions. The Program also makes grants for the purchase of objects meeting the criteria of Canada's legislation regarding the export and import of cultural property.

In addition to international negotiations, the federal government will undertake or sponsor museum activities internationally pursuant to both its domestic cultural and foreign policy objectives.

Canada's "temples of the human spirit" contain irreplaceable collections assembled by Canadians from the fabric of the past. These collections express our identity and our aspirations — not only as a society, but as individuals. They evoke our diverse experiences, our gifts, our creativity, our resourcefulness. For all of these reasons, the Government of Canada will continue to support and encourage our museums, ensuring that they remain among the most dynamic in the world.

The Role of Museums

Those things that are revealed by the light of day. .. are but imperfectly communicated without the aid of museums, which place on view for everyone a treasure trove of objects introducing us to the creativity and inventiveness of the human spirit down through the ages.

Such places are to be found in all enlightened nations. The time has come for Canada to take its first step in this same fruitful and instructive direction.

Napoleon Aubin, Archibald Campbell, Joseph Legare, William S. Sewell, et al
"A Proposal to Open a Canadian National Museum," Le Canadien, May 23, 1853

To make known the works of humanity

When Canada's first museums were created, one principal idea predominated: to contribute to the spread of public knowledge by displaying objects that people would never see otherwise. The first collections to be exhibited were in the natural sciences: botany, zoology, geology. These were followed by the fine arts and, more recently, by the rapidly expanding fields of science and technology.

There was much to be found in the early museums —indeed, perhaps too much. The good will of curators, donors and volunteers alike was sometimes taxed by the overwhelming quantity and diversity of the collections. Nonetheless, these included treasures that are today among the prized possessions of our museums. From the great mass of their collections, museologists extracted what was truly significant. They could do this because they knew and understood the history of the peoples who built Canada, a knowledge that was instrumental in linking museums closely with their communities.

Museum policy in transition

Federal museum policy has undergone a process of transition over the years. In 1972, the federal government developed a policy based on the concepts of democratization and decentralization, which required that museums become more accessible to all members of the public. Even today, decentralization of collections remains a prerequisite for meeting the goal of democratization.

The impact of that policy was considerable and is apparent in several ways. For example, public attitudes towards museums have changed: 80 percent of Canadians now express pride in their museums and favour public support for them. Canadians, their numbers bolstered increasingly by tourists from inside and outside the country, have brought the number of museum visits to over 22 million each year. With this favourable public response to museum programming, reinforced by the new federal policy measures, the Government expects annual museum visits to reach 30 million by the year 2001.

Rising museum attendance reflects well on the quality of museum programming and its acceptance by the community. As always, the human factor has been vital: the current levels of achievement could not have been reached without the efforts of Canada's 9,000 dedicated museum professionals and 20,000 committed volunteer workers.

Indeed, volunteers have played a vital role in the evolution of our museums. The sheer number and quality of volunteer workers, including those known as museum "friends," demonstrate the value that we as Canadians attach to our heritage, and the importance of museums in our communities.

These volunteers are often the same individuals who enrich museums, or even create them, by donating some or all of their private collections to the public. In addition to contributing time, experience and knowledge to museum work, volunteers and "friends" often provide valuable financial support.

Of diverse ages and backgrounds, volunteers contribute in many ways: operating museum shops, raising funds, guiding the activities of "friends" associations, working in museum libraries and, as docents, conducting guided tours. Volunteers are found in Canadian museums of all sizes; they are especially essential to small museums, which could not survive without their contributions. Like museum professionals, volunteer workers find in museums the fundamental values basic to our society.

For the small proportion of the population who still doubt the value of government support for culture, it must be emphasized that museums make a tangible contribution to Canada's economy. Although their true value is measured in terms of our culture and heritage, it is nonetheless true that museums represent an asset whose net worth in real estate, capital equipment and collections exceeds tens of billions of dollars. In terms of overall economic impact, our museums generate almost a billion dollars in revenue each year.

Part Two

There is ample evidence that the public interest can be aroused in anything that tends to secure a better educated community. There is no doubt that museums and art galleries might become a tremendous force towards the education of the public in matters which are of vital importance to the physical and moral health of the nation.

Sir Henry A. Miers and S.F. Markham
A Report on the Museums of Canada, presented to the Carnegie Corporation, 1932

New vistas for museums

The new federal museum policy results from a long process of analysis and consultation set in motion by the Government of Canada in 1984. The objective of that process was to assist our museums throughout the country to fulfil their role in Canadian society more effectively.

It soon became clear that the federal government and its National Museums Corporation (NMC), founded in 1968, were coming under criticism for, among other things, concentrating too much of Canada's heritage resources in Ottawa. Although the public admired the facilities and collections of the federal museums, considerable regret was expressed that these were not more accessible thoughout the country.

In 1986, the Government established the Withrow-Richard Task Force to evaluate the federal government's contribution to Canada's museums, including the role of the NMC. The Task Force produced a report that was submitted to the parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Culture. After studying the Task Force report and affirming most of its proposals, the Standing Committee in turn made its own recommendations to Parliament in February 1987. These called for the NMC to be dismantled and for a new federal museum policy to be developed. As a first step in this direction, the Government transferred the administration of NMC programs to the Department of Communications. The Department then conducted an extensive consultation with the museum community on directions for the new policy, through its discussion paper, Challenges and Choices.

From these developments flowed the elements that have guided the Government in shaping its new museum policy. Specifically, the federal government seeks to enhance Canadians' awareness, understanding and enjoyment of their human, natural, artistic and scientific heritage. It will do so by fostering the acquisition, preservation, research and interpretation of significant and representative collections of that heritage.

National museums and their affiliates

One of the major recommendations of the Withrow-Richard Task Force was to give more autonomy to the individual National Museums. This has been accomplished by the passage of the new Museums Act (1990), which abolishes the National Museums Corporation and establishes the following four museums as separate autonomous Crown corporations:

Each of these institutions will now have its own Board of Trustees, appointed by the Minister of Communications with the consent of the Governor in Council. The Minister is ultimately responsible for reporting on the administration of the four Crown corporations to Parliament. The respective boards of trustees will select the directors of the museums, subject to the approval of the Governor in Council.

To ensure the independent administration of each museum, the Museums Act prohibits the Government from intervening in the acquisition, disposition, conservation and utilization of museum collections. Similarly, the Government may not intervene in the museums' programming and other activities directed to the public, or in their research work.

Establishment of the new Crown corporations is another step towards greater decentralization in federal museum policy. The Museums Act recognizes the three existing Affiliated Museums and allows for the creation, if required, of new Affiliated Museums, such as the projected museums of New France, of the Performing Arts, and of Science and Technology in Montreal. Other future institutions could focus on specific priority areas such as the environment or regional concerns or could fill gaps that now exist in heritage presentation.

The federal government is acutely aware of the role and importance of culture in our society. These major changes to the National Museums are intended to permit as many Canadians as possible to enjoy greater access to their museum heritage.

Perspectives 2001

It might seem that visitors do nothing but pass in front of museum exhibits. But if you watch closely, you will notice that they are more deeply interested in some than in others, and pause for a long time in front of these, showing them to their companions. .. We don't want merely to show objects to the public, but to teach people to notice things to which they have never paid attention, or that they have learned to ignore.

Richard Claveau and Frank Oppenheimer
"A Museum for Exploring Science," Le Monde, July 4, 1982

Implementing the new museum policy

During the 1990s, the new federal museum policy will be implemented flexibly, fairly and equitably. The Government's approach will emphasize continuity and partnership with other levels of government and with organizations concerned with museum issues. This will be a long-term approach, encouraging collaboration between museums with complementary goals. The Government's ultimate objective will be to heighten Canadians' involvement with their heritage.

Contemporary museological thinking favours greater decentralization of collections, and a corresponding reorientation of services to the needs of the community. Thus all Canadians, no matter who they are, where they live or where they come from, would have greater access to the country's museum collections. The public may gain knowledge of our heritage in a variety of familiar ways: travelling exhibitions, museum visits, attendance at cultural events, and use of audio-visual materials or computer technology

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI)

Cultural institutions such as libraries and museums attempt to arrest time, or at least to create the illusion of doing so, by collecting and conserving vestiges of the past and according them the status of treasures. Paintings and writings are thus wrested, if precariously, from the dreary ravages of time.

Guy Robert
Art et non finito, Éditions France-Amérique, 1984, p. 46

To arrest time

A collection's availability to the public depends in part on the physical condition of its holdings. Unfortunately, Canada's collected heritage includes many objects that cannot be circulated or even exhibited because they require conservation treatment.

The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) is the federal government's instrument for providing such services to the museum community. The Institute, created in 1972 to promote the preservation of Canada's heritage collections, has a mandate to prolong the life of those collections as long as possible. It carries out complex conservation treatments of exceptionally significant heritage objects at its Ottawa laboratories.

CCI will expand its research into new conservation methods. It will continue to make available its specialized knowledge through its publications program, and will offer training courses, professional development activities, and technical symposia. Recognized internationally for the excellence of its treatment and research work, CCI co-operates with such organizations as the International Council of Museums, the International Centre for Conservation, and is a founding partner of the Conservation Information Network.

As in other areas of federal museum policy, it is vital that high-quality services in the area of conservation be provided on an equitable basis throughout Canada. To that end, new CCI programs will be introduced in the areas of French-language conservation training and decentralized treatment of significant museum heritage projects. In addition, wider distribution of conservation information will be undertaken.

French-language conservation training

To ensure that conservation services are uniformly available throughout the country, it is important to create a training program for Canadians working in French. The Department of Communications will encourage the establishment of a professional-development program in conservation at a French-language university in Quebec, with the aim of increasing the number of practising Francophone conservators in Canada.

Priority conservation projects

The increase in the number of professional conservators in Canada — from 25 in 1972 to some 350 in 1990 — means that it is now possible for more conservation work to be undertaken outside of CCI laboratories. The Institute will be prepared to manage major projects in other parts of Canada involving professionals from museums, other levels of government and the private sector. Projects considered as priorities will be those entailing collaboration with the provinces, expanding conservation knowledge, or involving complex treatments of objects of regional or national importance.

Information dissemination

CCI's publications program concentrates on disseminating research results, as well as information on conservation techniques and preventative conservation. Designed for professional conservators, the program is used by more than 3,000 specialists in Canada and abroad, providing them with information on current Canadian developments in the field, and similar activities elsewhere in the world. The dissemination of this information to museum experts in Canada is one of the most cost-effective means of protecting our heritage.

Under the new federal museum policy, the CCI will expand access to its Museological Resource Centre. Consisting of historical and contemporary documents, the Centre is one of the finest museological reference libraries in Canada, with holdings available through the inter-library loan system. In the future, greater emphasis will be placed on expanding services to medium-sized and small institutions currently unable to access the system.

Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN)

Certainly culture is memory and acquired tradition, but it is no less creativity and a quest for the future.

René Maheu
Remarks of the Director General of Unesco, submitted to the General Assembly, October 1973

Protecting memory and tradition

Obtaining the maximum public benefit from Canada's museums requires documentation of the contents and significance of their collections. The ongoing process of recording and systematizing this data is a vital aspect of preserving our heritage.

The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) has the mission of creating a comprehensive, computerized national inventory of Canadian museum holdings. The existence of this inventory facilitates the management of collections, permits greater access to them, and promotes the exchange of information for planning and organizing public exhibitions. CHIN also provides a collections-management service and advice on new information technologies to museums across the country.

Under the new federal museum policy, these activities will be expanded. To date, CHIN's automated system has created computer records of 12 million heritage objects; by the turn of the century, that total will have reached 20 million.

CHIN services

The Canadian Heritage Information Network's automated collections-management service will continue to be offered to Canadian museums without charge. CHIN also provides a wide range of advisory services to museum professionals on the automation of museum information, including development of procedures and standards, database design and implementation, and training.

The Network provides access to more than 120 databases through Canadian and international telecommunications facilities for researchers and the museum community, here and abroad. This makes it possible to obtain information on the location, physical description, condition and heritage significance of objects in museum collections. This information facilitates decision-making concerning conservation, collection building, and exhibition planning in Canada or abroad. CHIN services, including the Conservation Information Network, are used by more than 350 museums in all regions of Canada and in more than twenty countries around the world.

In the next few years, CHIN will accelerate the dissemination and sharing of its information within the Canadian museum community. This will be accomplished both by expanding the type and quantity of information available through the Network, and by opening access to the Network to more Canadian museums. CHIN will facilitate the formulation and testing of new information-management practices, standards and techniques, and disseminate the results of these initiatives to the museum community. In addition to providing users with a wider range of reference databases tailored to the emerging needs of museums, CHIN will offer a technology-assessment service to the museum community regarding the acquisition of information systems.

Movable Cultural Property Program (MCP)

... every nation possesses a specific individuality that distinguishes it from the general individuality of humanity.

J.W. Goethe
Écrits sur Part, introduced by T. Todorov. Translated by J.M. Schaeffer, Klincksieck, Paris, 1983

The individuality of peoples

An often-neglected aspect of heritage preservation is the loss of significant objects through export. Since these losses hamper our ability to maintain our heritage, legislation exists to facilitate the return of Canadian heritage objects held outside the country, as well as to control the export of those now in the country. The principal objective of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act is to retain in Canada representative examples of movable cultural property. The range of objects protected under the Act is very broad, embracing works of art, historical artifacts, specimens of natural history, archival materials, and historical scientific and technological equipment.

The Act contains mechanisms for controlling exports, tax incentives for individuals to donate or sell cultural objects considered to be of exceptional importance to Canadian museums, and grants to repatriate objects that have already been exported. These provisions benefit Canadian museums, and consequently the Canadian public. The Movable Cultural Property Program (MCP) for strengthening Canada's cultural fabric will now enjoy increased budgetary resources to enable museums to continue actively purchasing objects held outside the country or threatened with permanent export.

Museums Assistance Program (MAP)

The ideals that have nourished creativity and progress should be accompanied today by realism, to ensure firm foundations for museology.

Gael de Guichen and Jacqueline Maggi
Museum, Unesco, Paris, no. 163, 1989, p. 140

Ensuring firm foundations

As a major means of giving effect to its support for Canada's diverse museum community, the federal government operates the Museums Assistance Program (MAP). The various components of MAP constitute the Government's main instrument of direct support for museums. This program delivers a broad range of funding and other assistance measures for implementing the goals of federal museum policy. Under the new policy, significantly increased budgetary resources for MAP will ensure more adequate financial and technical assistance for our museums and related non-profit organizations.

Canadian museum professionals are entrusted with a major responsibility: discovering, assessing, maintaining and restoring heritage collections that reflect the history of the peoples of Canada. Our museums also have a further responsibility: to interpret and communicate the contents of their collections. This is a complex task requiring favourable conditions for success. The Museums Assistance Program reinforces excellence by responding to the need for advisory services, by contributing to the organization of exhibitions and other programming activities, by supporting the upgrading of facilities and equipment, and by assisting professional development.

MAP funding


The Museums Assistance Program will focus its efforts on those exhibition activities for which federal support is indispensable. Grants in aid of exhibitions will be available to facilitate Canadians' access to their human, natural, artistic and scientific heritage, and to foster knowledge and appreciation of that heritage.

This support will be provided for travelling exhibitions of provincial, interprovincial or international scope. A comprehensive funding approach will cover all stages of exhibition development, from the planning and research stages through the promotion and evaluation. MAP assistance is not available for exhibitions of contemporary art, which receive federal funding through the Canada Council.

In the last twenty years, the overall situation of our museums has improved, in the sense that Associate Museums, which have been given a special status, are no longer the only institutions with major collections and the ability to maintain and exhibit them well. Equity therefore demands that all Canadian museums become eligible for federal assistance designed to create greater access for Canadians to museum collections.

The program of financial assistance previously provided exclusively to the Associate Museums will continue to be made available through the fiscal years 1990-91 and 1991-92, but will terminate on March 31, 1992. During this transitional period, the former Associate Museums may apply for assistance under the new MAP program of aid to exhibitions, in open competition with other applicants.

Also, the National Exhibition Centres (NECs) have evolved across the country, as multidisciplinary cultural centres and museum sites. Under the new museum policy, existing NECs will continue to receive support from the federal government, but no new institutions will be established or designated as NECs. Financial support for NECs will remain at its current level; otherwise, these institutions will be encouraged to compete for funding under other program components.

Facilities upgrading and equipment

To improve Canadians' access to their heritage, and to safeguard Canadian museum collections, grants will be available for the upgrading of facilities and equipment for conservation, storage and preservation.

There will also be financial support for long-term planning projects, facilities design, and innovative marketing projects. This support will seek to ensure the effective development of our museums and the efficient use of their available resources

Collections management

Museums will benefit from financial assistance for documentation and automation of collections data, to ensure that data are compatible with other Canadian collections using the standards of the Canadian Heritage Information Network.

Professional development

Professionalism is an essential criterion in all areas of museum operations. Grants will be available for projects in museum research, standards development, instructional methods, training, and in the evaluation of such projects. Assistance will also be extended to mid-career professional development.

Priority initiatives

The search for excellence being the ultimate objective of government support in the museum sector, financial assistance will be available for special services in priority areas. Examples of such projects might include conferences, publications, or other ventures considered important for the museum community.

Aboriginal museum development

The proper care of Canadian heritage requires that financial resources be designated for the preservation, protection and management of representative collections of aboriginal cultures. This support will also be available for the professional development of aboriginal museum personnel. The program will be developed in close consultation with the aboriginal and museum communities.

MAP professional and consulting services

Exhibition transport service

Transportation for exhibitions and artifacts will continue to be provided to museums and related institutions on a cost-recovery basis. Technical consultation is also provided on questions relating to exhibition transport.

Technical advice for international exhibitions

Technical advice will be provided to Canadian museums wishing to borrow exhibitions from abroad or circulate exhibitions outside Canada.

Insurance for travelling exhibitions

The existing Insurance Program for Travelling Exhibitions will be integrated into MAP with an expanded budget. Guidelines for accessing the program will remain the same. However, the cost-sharing formula will be modified, allowing the program to assume a larger share of the expense of insuring exhibitions.

Facilities and development

Modernization of museum facilities and development of plans for museum conservation may require consultation by specialists. These professionals will provide advice to institutions on such matters as environmental controls related to building design, fire protection and security, developmental planning, and marketing.

Implementation of MAP

The implementation and administration of the Museums Assistance Program will be carried out by headquarters officials of the Department of Communications, supplemented by personnel in the Department's regional offices.

Proposals will be assessed by the Program's professional staff, as part of an evaluation process involving specialists from the museum community. Recommendations will then be submitted to the Minister of Communications for approval.

Research on museums

Yet never has humanity devoted so much effort as it does today to examining its past and discovering the earliest evidence of its presence.

Andre Corboz
Vie des Arts, vol. XIX, no.76, autumn 1974, p.4

Examining the work and its evidence

The Department of Communications has initiated a research program in order to provide Canadian museums with a necessary developmental tool. The program will compile data on all matters concerning museums, including their physical condition, programming, audiences, and other needs.

These research findings will assist the Department in determining where, when and how it can act to apply its museum policy and programs more effectively. The program will also help museum managers identify the strengths and weaknesses of the services they offer and provide a stronger basis for the development of individual museums. For example, if the needs of visitors to Canadian museums are not sufficiently known, the research program will attempt to pinpoint those needs and permit them to be better served. In addition, research into the museum labour market will assist in framing guidelines for training and professional development programs.

Budgetary resources

As products of their time, museums are the reflection of the economic, social and political conditions of the societies that conceived them.

Gael De Guichen and Jacqueline Maggi
Museum, Unesco, Paris, no. 163, 1989, p. 139

A reflection of society

The importance that the federal government accords to museums is amply justified by their social and cultural role in informing us about our past, and thus illuminating our present and future. In addition, the impact of museums on regional tourism development and job creation strengthens the case for public support.

For these reasons, $43 million in new funding will be injected over the next five years into federal programs and services for non-federal museums. This is in addition to $10 million ($2 million per year) being transferred from the cancelled Mobile Exhibits Program.

This total investment of $53 million will be phased in between 1990 and 1995. By the third year of the five-year period, the increased funding will have an accelerated impact, since the annual net increase will rise from $4 million in 1990-91 to $10 million by 1992-93.

These resources will be made available to the following programs: the Museums Assistance Program; the Insurance Program for Travelling Exhibitions; the Movable Cultural Property Program; the Canadian Conservation Institute; the Canadian Heritage Information Network; and Museum Policy Research.

Museums Assistance Program (MAP)

Direct funding under MAP will increase from the 1989-90 level of $8.5 million to $18 million by 1994-95 (an increase of 112 percent, including the $2 million per year transferred from the former Mobile Exhibits Program).

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI)

By 1994-95, the annual budget will be increased by $1.5 million. Most of this increase will be used for the new training program for Francophone conservators and conservation treatments outside the National Capital Region. The remainder will be used for fellowships and wider dissemination of information through both the CCI publications program and the Museological Resource Centre.

Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN)

In addition to increased resources from international activities, the CHIN annual budget will increase by $690,000 by 1994-95. This will fund expanded services related to network development, fellowships and technology assessment.

Movable Cultural Property Program (MCP)

The grant budget of the Movable Cultural Property Program will be increased by $200,000 to a total of $1.8 million annually.

Insurance Program for Travelling Exhibitions

Currently at $270,000, the budget for this program will rise to $370,000 to meet increased demands.

Museum Policy Research

Research initiatives will expand in areas such as visitor surveys, with a budget of $600,000 by 1994-95.


The eye has been called the window of the spirit; it is the principal means by which the intellect appreciates fully the magnificence of the infinite works of nature. The ear is our second faculty, for it derives its nobility from the fact that it hears the utterances of those things that the eye has seen. Historian, poet or mathematician, if you have never apprehended objects with the eye, you will scarcely be able to describe them in your writings.

Leonardo Da Vinci
"Comparison of the Arts," The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Volume 2, Gallimard, 1987, p. 226

When objects speak

Canada's museums are custodians of the three-dimensional heritage of which Leonardo speaks: the evidence of scientific discoveries, the experiments of evolving art forms, the records and fragments of strife, struggle and achievement that led to the birth of a living society.

Reflecting Canadians' maturity as a people, the new federal museum policy responds to the mandate that they have given their government in this field. The policy accomplishes a lot with a little; it affirms the significance of museums in Canadian life at a time when the economy is under pressure and financial resources are limited.

The policy described in these pages highlights the importance that the Government places on public access to our museums and their collections. The policy gives our museums the tools they need to reach their goals. It makes effective use of existing and new resources for museum development, providing meaningful budget increases and a corresponding reorganization of programs and services.

Museums are not solely preoccupied with the past. The new policy has been shaped with an eye on the next century; it addresses the changes taking place in the museum community as it engages contemporary concerns and ideas.

Today's generations have a responsibility to bear witness to the present. With the tangible artifacts of our own time, we mark the route we have followed and the route we will take tomorrow. Like past generations, those of the present have an almost instinctive need to bear witness, so that the era we have lived through will not be forgotten: the era of television, computer technologies, satellites and space exploration; the era of pollution, plastics and laser beams.

In the museums of tomorrow, our memories will mingle with those of past generations, and we too will enter history, to be observed and studied as part of the continuing process of understanding human development. That is the true function of a museum: to be a window on the human spirit.

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