From the Interim Chair: Reaching Out to Canadians Through a Fresh Lens

March 8, 2021
Image of Jean Giguère

Jean Giguère, C.M., Interim Chair, Board of Trustees

THE YEAR 2020 will not soon be forgotten by individuals, communities and organizations the world over. We have all had to adjust many aspects of our lives. How we interact with family and friends has changed. How we work, play and learn has changed. And museums worldwide, including our own, have had to swiftly re-envision how they interact with their audiences.

Although each day brings unique challenges and uncertainty, the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum takes great pride in the commitment and determination of its amazing staff. Despite new realities, they work tirelessly to keep Canadian history alive, developing and presenting our offerings through a fresh lens. As they continue serving Canadians, staff are also asking a question that has never been more relevant: if visitors cannot come to us, how can we bring our Museums to them?

Recent studies show that many online visitors may not come to museums regularly. This might be due to financial constraints, ease of online access, or the freedom to explore whenever they like on their own schedule. Aside from the challenges presented by COVID-19, expanding how we engage with our audiences is critical.

In recent months, our Museums have delved into new ways of sharing what they do, along with new means of reaching online audiences. The Museums have adapted current and upcoming on-site exhibitions and displays, making it possible for visitors to interact with these offerings in a safe and engaging way. Other exhibitions have been converted for presentation online. For example, the War Museum recently launched both virtual and on-site versions of Liberation! Canada and the Netherlands 1944–1945, allowing visitors to choose how they explore its compelling stories.

Creative options for the Museums’ many events are also being explored. This past summer, the Museum of History hosted a virtual event with Rick Hansen, announcing the acquisition of a major new collection from his Man In Motion World Tour. Audiences across the country tuned in for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to listen as a Canadian legend spoke with Dr. Jenny Ellison, the Museum’s Curator of Sport and Leisure.

Our learning experts have also developed a rich slate of online programs for teachers and students, allowing them to continue to benefit from the Museums’ educational resources and expertise. And families of all ages have been enjoying our Museum at Home websites, featuring an ever-expanding selection of engaging and educational resources.

I have had the honour of serving on the Museum Board for more than seven years, currently as Interim Chair. I am also proud to have spent much of my career within Canada’s cultural sector and have seen the impact that donors have in advancing the vision of museums and arts organizations. Donors’ contributions are invaluable in ensuring the sustainability of these organizations, and this has never been more true than in these challenging times.

We are thankful that we can count on the ongoing support of people like you, who are committed to ensuring that the Museum of History and the War Museum can continue to find innovative ways to share important stories with Canadians everywhere, now and for generations to come.

Jean Giguère, C.M., Interim Chair