The Canadian History Museum (Musée canadien de l’histoire) is located in the Hull district of Gatineau, near to Ottawa. Formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization, it is Canada’s national museum of Canadian and world history and civilization, sharing richly diverse and colourful histories and cultures through a mixture of permanent, temporary and even virtual exhibitions.
The museum first opened its doors in 1856 as a hall for the Geological Survey of Canada, showcasing collections of minerals, biological material, and eventually also historical and ethnological artefacts. As its collection expanded and grew to accommodate a wider variety of subject matters, the museum’s focus shifted towards anthropology – the study of humans, human behaviour and societies. Along with the changing themes at the museum, the name has also evolved over time; first called the National Museum of Canada, it became the Museum of Man in 1968, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1986, and finally the Canadian History Museum in 2013.
To coincide with the museum’s name change in 2013, their mandate was amended to provide a new purpose for the museum:
“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.” (Canadian Museum of History Act)
It is Canada’s most visited museum for a reason – it is a fantastic space to learn about the fascinating history of Canada and its people, and not in a stale and stuffy way. The building itself is something to behold architecturally, and its engaging exhibitions are bursting with beautiful, rare artefacts and installations. There are three permanent galleries, including the Grand Hall and the Canadian History Hall. The third is the First People’s Hall, the result of a pioneering and innovative collaboration between the museum and First People’s representatives in order to chronicle their history, culture, art, stories, and also the relationship with European settlers that Canada’s aboriginal people experienced, through their own narrative.
You can find out more information about the museum and plan your visit here. We hope you enjoy your trip to the Canadian History Museum!
Photo courtesy of the Canadian History Museum.