National Museum of History of Quebec: no to all-digital

National Museum of History of Quebec: no to all-digital
National Museum of History of Quebec: no to all-digital

The National Museum of Quebec History (MNHQ) project is sparking lively debate.

It’s crazy what we’ve heard over the past few days. According to some, there is being prepared in the National Capital for a Nazifying Museum of pure French Quebec.

Based on a few blunders by François Legault, some are sounding the highest alert: we are preparing a project of ethnic cleansing of memory; a Museum of “victors” (!), aiming to exclude all “Others”, first and foremost, the First Nations.

Totally excessive comments. We sometimes have the impression now that any speech about Quebec as a nation necessarily carries some sort of guilty will. One wonders if we can still, without being suspicious, affirm that there is such a thing as the Quebec nation with its own history.

Totally digital?

However, I admit to having fears about one aspect. When I hear the Minister of Culture Mathieu Lacombe declare: “I have the ambition to make it the most digital museum in the country. We need to attract young people. I don’t just want dates and portraits of people who governed us on the walls.

At a time when the childish enthusiasm for digital technology is disappearing, when we are becoming more and more aware of the harmful nature of screens for learning, when cell phones are being expelled from classes, Minister Lacombe’s declaration seems out of date; very 1996… Particularly because we detect this distressing association between digital technology and “Djeunzes” (a funny term coined in France to mock older people wishing to appear “cool” in the eyes of younger generations).

Rich collections

If Quebec deserves its national history museum, it is also for a very concrete reason: there are incredible quantities of artifacts from the era of New France in particular, which are lying dormant in warehouses. The CEO of the Musée de la civilization Stéphan La Roche estimated the MCQ collection at some “680,000 objects, documents, archives and works of art”. “It’s gigantic!”

The defunct Museum of French America, once located a stone’s throw from the building where the future MNHQ will stand, exhibited a fraction of this rich collection.

Let’s hope that the MNHQ does not offer some sort of wandering through a giant website. Its ambition should, on the contrary, consist of exhibiting the greatest number of artifacts from this French America, which became Quebec after having been New France, Canada, Lower Canada, etc., enriched by contacts, exchanges and interbreeding with the first peoples. and immigration, of course.

A historian friend writes to me: “Young people won’t go to the museum to “see” digital technology.” They will travel precisely to get out of the virtual, to see real things, artifacts. In addition, Museums often offer bad digital: “We must at all costs avoid this type of exhibition where there are almost no objects”, but where we find ourselves in front of “large walls white with one or two interactive panels. Well said!

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