Originally published 07/31/2013
The release of the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s first research strategy — following a two-year process of reflection that was nearly derailed by the federal government’s decision last year to rename it the Museum of History and rewrite its mandate — has revived the age-old debate over the politicization of Canadian history.With Canada’s 150th birthday approaching in 2017, and the bicentennial of the War of 1812 just passed with unusual fanfare, the public’s appreciation of Canadian history is ripe for revision, and not just because some of the flagship national museum’s exhibits date to the 1990s, not long after it was renamed from the National Museum of Man. From the rewritten citizenship guide that undid years of Liberal ideological dominance, to the renaming of Canadian military units to honour the monarchy, history is increasingly the lens through which the country sees itself, and a ripe target for those who wish to change it.Now that the words “critical understanding” have been struck from the museum’s mandate, however, critics fear that history without criticism becomes propaganda....
Originally published 06/10/2013
A government plan to rename the Canadian Museum of Civilization as the Museum of History abandons a successful brand and gives it a "deeply worrying" new mandate, says the man who led the museum from 2000 to 2011.Former CEO Victor Rabinovitch addressed the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage Wednesday evening, making his first public remarks since the government announced the proposed changes in the fall of 2012.He pointed to reviews in tourism guides about the country's largest national museum, which sees about 1.2 million visitors per year."If the Museum of Civilization stands out as such a good product, why would anyone want to change its brand?" he asked....