A museum saga that continues

A museum saga that continues
A museum saga that continues

The announcement of the establishment of a National Museum of the History of Quebec (MNHQ) in the Camille-Roy pavilion of the Séminaire de Québec leaves me perplexed. This project, which replaces the aborted Blue Space project, seems to demonstrate the amateurism of our leaders with regard to museum culture. And once again, the lack of consultation with the community – like the Blue Spaces.

The need for this new museum remains to be proven. We forgot to mention, during the official announcement, that the Musée de la civilization (MCQ) presented for around fifteen years The time of Quebecersits permanent exhibition on the history of Quebec.

Not only that, but a brand new permanent exhibition, to which the museum has devoted years of work and a small fortune, will open on May 30. Quebec, in other words, wants to discover “the significant events that [l’]have forged […] both from the point of view of its territory, its occupation, its struggles and its evolution as well as from that of the contemporary issues it faces,” in the words of the museum.

Furthermore, as a colleague noted, we read from the first lines of the MCQ’s mission statement that its role is to “make known the history and the various components of our civilization, notably the material and social cultures of occupants of Quebec territory, as well as those who enriched them. » Isn’t that already enough? What will a new history museum bring? More Celine Dion and Mike Bossy?

Should we therefore modify the statement of the MCQ to align it with a new museum reality? A visitor, in a few years, will have, a stone’s throw away, two exhibitions on the history of Quebec… (Let’s not forget that the MCQ is currently presenting, what a coincidence!, an exhibition on the struggle, co-produced with Robert Lepage and Ex Machina.) Two national museums, two probably distinct visions, which I hope, at the very least, are complementary.

No collection

Then, since the objects exhibited at the MNHQ will, it seems, come mainly from the MCQ collection, should we consider this new national museum as a museum in its own right if it does not have any collection? Will it fulfill all the functions listed by the definition of the International Council of Museums, that is to say “a permanent, non-profit institution in the service of society, which is dedicated to research, collecting , conservation, interpretation and exhibition of tangible and intangible heritage”?

Will this MNHQ ultimately be just a branch of the MCQ? If it does not have any collections (because nothing I have read so far suggests the creation of a new national collection), the MNHQ will effectively be the only national museum of Quebec, of all the Canada, not to possess or preserve any object. Perhaps we have the answer to our question by noting that the Minister of Culture Mathieu Lacombe proudly affirms that this museum will be the most digital in the world…

In short, this new museum represents the very quintessence of Blue Spaces as they were envisaged at their birth in 2021: people and digital, “repackaged” by giving it a high-sounding and nationalist title – as Stephen Harper wanted to do in 2012 by renaming the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau into the Canadian Museum of History.

I have full confidence in the MCQ team to finalize this major project in a professional and relevant manner. What worries me are rather the arbitrary decisions in the field of culture and museum culture taken repeatedly by a government which seeks to coat itself with a veneer of culture and to sell at all costs a vision which is his and not necessarily that of Quebecers.

Many other options were possible and desirable to replace this Blue Space, such as a national museum of science and technology, if only the government had dared to consult the main actors in the field. Another great missed opportunity.

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