Gerard 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.  To 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 of State.

                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 the development 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 examined in the context of general cultural policies and activities of the federal and 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.

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