New Report on the Canadian Museum Sector

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage  recently released its report on the state of Canadian museums, Moving Forward: Towards a Stronger Canadian Museum Sector.

The Committee was asked to undertake a study to review the state of Canadian museums back in February 2016, with a focus on local and community museums (as opposed to the major national or provincial museums).

The report is divided into two parts and makes 15 recommendations to the Department of Canadian Heritage, as follows: 

Recommendation 1
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage simplify the funding application process for museums, especially for small museums.

Recommendation 2
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage review funding streams for museums with the goal of establishing a more sustainable funding system.

Recommendation 3
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage review and modernize the National Museum Policy.

Recommendation 4
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage undertake consultations on a new museum policy to better support all museums.

Recommendation 5
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage expand the Museums Assistance Program to create more sustainable funding.

Recommendation 6
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada include museums as eligible organizations for matching endowment funding through the Canada Cultural Investment Fund.

Recommendation 7
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada explore extending the benefits accrued to cultural property to in-kind donations made to museums.

Recommendation 8
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage support the undertaking of a study on admission fees and policies and their impact on museum attendance, including by diverse and underrepresented groups.

Recommendation 9
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage task the Canadian Conservation Institute to collaborate with the museum sector and post-secondary institutions to: i) develop a steady supply of museum professionals and specialists; ii) train museum volunteers and board members; iii) offer digital courses for catalogue collections; iv) offer distance learning and online training for museum staff and volunteers, with a particular focus on the needs of small and/or rural museums and v) establish a peer-to-peer mentorship program. These initiatives should use the Clore Leadership Programme (United Kingdom) and the Getty Leadership Institute (United States) as models.

Recommendation 10
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage
collaborate with the Canadian Museums Association and provincial museum associations to build relevant online training programs, including digital and copyright literacy for staff and volunteers.

Recommendation 11
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage provide additional funding to modernize the storage and cataloguing of collections.

Recommendation 12
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage recognize the role museums play in promoting diversity and multiculturalism, and actively encourage museums, where appropriate, to diversify their holdings and exhibits to attract a wider and more diverse audience, so that all Canadians see themselves reflected therein.

Recommendation 13
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action #67, “We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Museums Association to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to make recommendations.”

Recommendation 14
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage create an incentive to encourage museums to pool resources and physical infrastructure, in areas such as storage facilities, marketing plans, insurance policies and other expenses.

Recommendation 15
The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage explore options for collaboration between cultural institutions and the private sector and the sharing of best practices.

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