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Canada's largest museum to get new focus

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-10-17 14:52

Canada's largest museum to get new focus

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is pictured in Gatineau, Quebec, Oct 16, 2012. Canada's Heritage Minister James Moore announced plans on Tuesday to change the name and mandate of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in order to create the Canadian Museum of History. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - Canada's most-visited museum will undergo its second name change as part of the country's 150th anniversary celebrations five years from now, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said Tuesday.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, situated across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, will be renamed the Canadian Museum of History, Moore announced in a statement.

"Canadians deserve a national museum of history that tells our stories and presents our country's treasures to the world."

While the present museum features special international exhibitions such as classic Mayan civilization, the retooled museum will have a distinct Canadian focus when it reopens with a new identity in 2017.

The Department of Canadian Heritage said the Canadian Museum of History will highlight the achievements and national accomplishments that shaped the country - from the "Last Spike" driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, Canada's first transcontinental railroad built on the backs of more than 15,000 Chinese young men, to items from the Marathon of Hope by Terry Fox, who captured world attention when he began a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research.

Canadian history will come to life, museum president and CEO Mark O'Neill said, adding that Canadians have not had a museum entirely dedicated to their national history.

However, Member of Parliament Scott Simms, heritage critic for the opposition Liberal Party, accused the Conservative federal government of dismantling the Museum of Civilization's focus on world history to concentrate on the historical events and symbols that best fit with their narrative and turn it into a subsidiary of the Conservative Party spin machine.

Historians are also concerned about the change in the museum's name and mandate, citing the Canadian government's attention to the country's military history as witnessed in various activities marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812 between forces of the United States and the British Empire on land that later became Canada.

Opened at its current location in the National Capital Region in 1989, the museum attracts more than 1 million visitors annually and traces its history back to 1856. In 1986, its name was changed from the National Museum of Man, which was located in Ottawa, to its current name and home in the province of Quebec.

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