Ten years and five million people

August 26, 2015

A decade ago, on the 50th anniversary of VE Day, more than 2,000 veterans marched to LeBreton Flats to officially open the new Canadian War Museum. They were among the Museum’s first visitors.

By the end of the Museum’s first year, these veterans had been joined by 576,000 more visitors. In August, this number reached five million.

In its first 10 years, the Canadian War Museum set a new standard of excellence for museums through the intellectual rigour of its research, the breadth and uniqueness of its collections, and the honesty in how it deals with the devastating human experience that is war. It has also stretched its influence across the country, through its travelling exhibitions and outreach programs.

Personal, emotional, unforgettable

The striking architecture of Raymond Moriyama and Alex Rankin has drawn many. The structure seems to emerge organically from the landscape along the banks of the Ottawa River. Canada has been a battlefield, and Canadians have served in battles around the globe, but the building seems to remind us that, in the end, nature regenerates and restores.

Inside, the angles of the concrete and stone unsettle the visitor and jar the senses in anticipation of disturbing images and ideas. The displays are personal, emotional and unforgettable, raising issues and asking questions, but leaving the visitor to ponder whether there are indeed answers.

The Museum does not glorify war. Rather, it illustrates the profound impact it has on individual human experience, and how war has shaped Canadians as a people.

Sharing our stories

Ten years after its opening, the Canadian War Museum has welcomed millions, but the Museum’s success is shown not just by the number of visitors but by the depth of their experiences.

Visitors are invited to share their stories about how the Canadian War Museum has touched them. One told of how the Museum, “moved me, taught me, touched my heart and inspired me.” “I learned so much about my country and my military,” said another, “and I smiled, laughed, was in awe and in tears.”

What does the War Museum mean to you?

For its 10th anniversary, the Museum is inviting Canadians to participate in its Tell Us Your War Museum Story campaign.

We invite you to tweet or post an Instagram photo using the hashtag #WarMuseum10, upload a YouTube video with the keywords “My #WarMuseum10 story” in the title, or share your thoughts directly on our website. Visit warmuseum.ca/10 to see the comments and to add your own War Museum story.

Top: Canadian War Museum, 2004, CWM2015-0027-0001-Dm

Bottom: Canadian War Museum, 2006, photo Tom Arban Photography, CWM2013-0074-0001-Dm

Musée canadien de la guerre, Archives institutionnelles = Canadian War Museum, Institutional archives