Pelletier's vision for Canadian museums:
To what extent has it been achieved?
In a speech he gave in Calgary early in 1972, the
Hon. Gerard Pelletier, then
Secretary of State, enunciated his vision for museums in Canada.
implement this vision the national museum policy was developed by a
small core of public servants (I was one), under the general direction
of André Fortier, now retired,then an Assistant Under Secretary
This project,as presently conceived, will have three
phases. The first phase is a descriptive analysis of federal
actions in the museum field 1965 to date. Among these are the
creation of the National Museums of Canada in 1967; the national museum
policy of 1972; and finally the dismemberment of the National Museums
of Canada in 1990.
The second phase will study the national museum
policy from its inception in 1972 to date. While elements of the policy
such as the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) and the Canadian
Heritage Network(CHIN)will not be neglected, the major emphasis will be
of the Museums Assistance Programs: their varying directions over the
years, how much money was made available, how it was granted, etc.
The third phase will concentrate on the museums
neglected during this period. Most such museums were and mostly
still are unfunded, in that they did not or do not have a stable
multi-annual source for operating funds from an institution such as a
government, university, foundation or coproration. Most of these
museums have a scientific or technological focus.
The major question to be addressed in all three
phases is to what extent the various initiatives and organizational
changes in these
years advanced the Pelletier vision. Museums will also be
the context of general cultural policies and activities of the federal
other governments in Canada. In particular, the evolution of
museum support will be compared with other cultural activities
receiving government support.
This research project is my major work in progress. Each phase
will be completed sequentially, and each will take approximately one
year to complete. Expected completion date for the first phase is
the end of 2004. How and when the findings will be published have
yet to be determined.