CANADIAN MUSEUM OF CIVILIZATION: ABANDONED
Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.
~ Chief Seattle ~
Text and photography by B. Thomas Witzel (except as noted)
Like an abandoned homestead in the foot hills of the Rockies,
the Canadian Museum of Civilization is no more.
In early November 2013, after a fog of controversy, Canada’s Parliament passed its final reading of Bill C-7, an Act to amend the Museum Act.
The amended act changes the name of the Canadian Museum of Civilization to The Canadian Museum of History. Part of the amendment reads, “the purpose … is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.”
Ironically, the Face to Face exhibit, which highlights numerous prominent Canadians including a founding father of our Confederation, Sir John A. McDonald, is slated to be dismantled.
And so too, the Canada Hall…
The Museum was designed by Architect Douglas Cardinal, and opened in 1989.
It is located in Hull, Quebec directly across the Ottawa River from Canada’s Parliament.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization was Canada’s most popular museum, with more than 1 Million visitors per year.
The Grand Hall will remain relatively intact.
WHY THE CHANGE?
The following text is from a Library of Parliament research Publication, Section 3 of the Actual Legislative Summary of Bill C-7, dated October 28, 2013:
“Critics of the change noted the importance the government has placed on military history and speculated whether this would become the focus of the new museum… Specifically, James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, lamented the end of the Canada Hall, which he said was the largest and finest social history display in the country… Victor Rabinovitch, the former president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, said the new mandate reduces the museum’s scope of activity by focusing on the past rather than on contemporary issues, (and) by reducing the role of research.”
41st Parliament, 2nd Session – Publication Number 41-2-C7-I
This exhibit of the Canada Hall is slated for wrecking crew.
Is Prime Minister Steven Harper hell bent on removing this Marshall McLuhan exhibit as well?
The Prime Minister harps on about fiscal restraint. His majority Conservative government cuts back basic environmental research by closing the Experimental Lakes Area, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, and the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
And yet, 25 million dollars has been allocated to re-brand the museum and to renovate 1/2 of the its 100,00-square feet of exhibits.
On December 4, 2013, The Canadian Anthropology Association made a presentation on Bill C-7.
Here is a portion of what the Anthropologists said:
“The funding is not adequate… Current costs to meet curatorial standards are normally about 1K per sq. ft. This means that you need $50M, not $25M, to carry out a renovation… This gross underfunding is going to diminish the quality of the museum… The repurposing of such an outstanding museum is problematic at best.”
“The museum’s collections are 80% Aboriginal, and the curatorial expertise of the museum is in keeping with that emphasis. It is not feasible to convert those materials and that expertise into other, still unspecified Canadian historical themes.”
Dan Gallacher is a past curator emeritus of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and former Chief of human history at the Royal British Columbia Museum. He wrote an article entitled Canadian Museum of Civilization, Stalked by a Trojan Horse:
“These permanent Canada Hall historical settings are built and protected with extensive environmental, security, and other museum systems. Tearing out both the period structures and display infrastructures would drain much of the so-far allotted $25 million. To remove, replace, and match the quality of the current exhibits, that amount and twice as much again would be needed. Common sense says it simply doesn’t wash financially.”
So much for fiscal restraint.
THE PLOT THICKENS
This post would make a good novel, if it wasn’t a true story…
The newly rebranded Canadian Museum of History comes hand in hand with an an unprecedented 1 Million Dollar donation by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). The money will be disbursed over the next 5 years and makes CAPP an official sponsor of the Museum of History. CAPP president, David Collyer, said that the partnership with the Museum offers “an opportunity for us to establish more visibility — credibility, if you will — across the country. It reinforces our message, but it’s not the vehicle by which we will deliver the message.”
Hmmm, I ponder.
Maybe this is the vehicle…
CAPP and Imperial Oil were sponsors of an exhibition on energy that opened in 2011 at the Museum of Science and Technology. Emails obtained by CBC and McLean’s later revealed the oil industry had exerted pressure to alter exhibit content so as to treat them more favourably. Stephen Harper sings his tune to promote the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines, while the The Almighty Oil Sands crude
rules ruins the earth.
Furthermore, a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary by The 5th Estate reveals in depth about cutbacks and dismissals of numerous government scientists and the closure of their research programs.
In Silencing of the Labs, investigative journalist Linden MacIntyre reports about the mysterious firing in 2012 of Dr. Patricia Sutherland, after 30 years of her highly acclaimed work as Curator of Arctic Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Since 1999, Dr. Sutherland and the museum had been researching an important site, Nanook, on Baffin Island. This was featured in another CBC documentary, The Norse: An Arctic Mystery. The archaeological discovery indicates a prominent Viking presence in North America, much earlier than previously thought. The Museum of History will not allow Sutherland to access the artefacts or the data. In essence, the research is suspended.
The Fifth Estate documentary speculated that Dr. Sutherland’s work threatened to undermine Canada’s push for sovereignty over oil reserves in the Arctic.
The Conservative Government ideology unfetters big business and the so-called free market, while controlling, dismantling, and even destroying vital research, data, and academic freedom.
“Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change… All things are connected.”
~ Chief Seattle ~ 1854
Source: Google Images
May all be well ~ Bruce
Posted for the weekly photo challenge: Abandoned