Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thinking about The Future

. . . what will Canadian museums be like in five years?

So. I just read a blog post by John D. Reid over at Anglo-Celtic Connections. He brought to my attention that (hadn't thought of this before) in five years, Canada will be 150 Years Old. That's old! But more than that, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons just released a report on the subject about how we are going to commemorate this milestone. And that has got me thinking. Oh am I thinking.

I want Canadian museums to do everything we can to get ready for this celebration. I want us to prove our worth, and to also say, hey, this work we do costs money. So many of our provincial museums were founded at the centennial in 1967 - where are they now? Methinks that many need an upgrade. And by that I do not necessarily think that we need to break it all down and build a new institution . . . but I do think it means we need to voice and state that our heritage is at risk because we need more investors, and that includes our governments.

Now I know that I have said in the past that we need to get away from depending on government support. But really, are we going to go through another session of photo ops and cake-eating (only) celebrations and not have any investment in our infrastructure? Do we let this continue? Or do we say there is a price involved in the preservation and the presentation of our stories? I think we finally get the guts to stand up and say the latter, all the while not apologizing it for it to be so. 

Oh I hear ya - times are tough, and funding is limited everywhere we go.  I know we can't possibly get all we need. But what we need to do is to inspire and advocate and broadcast that we are a service of value to our communities and our country. If we don't know where and what we've come from, we can't really plan where we are going to go. And know what? That's really important stuff.

The 150th birthday of Canada - the Sesquicentennial (oh how I love that word) - is an opportunity for museums. It's actually one of the first honest opportunities in a long while, as Canadians will be spontaneously looking to us to help commemorate our communities. So, please read the report, especially Chapter 5 on what museums can do for this celebration. And then start thinking. And planning.  Email me if you want to brainstorm. We're gonna make a difference, and in five years we will know it's true.

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