4; Cycle 1-2
- Grades 5-8;
Elementary Cycle 3, Secondary
- Grades 9-12;
Secondary Cycle 2
Treasures of Canada Webquest
Introduction | Task |
Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Roles | Search Help | Display Methods
The Canadian Museum of Civilization has opened its vaults! Your
class has been asked to choose the artifacts you think should be
part of a Treasures of Canada exhibition that will be travelling to
high schools around the world. This exhibition will be divided into
three zones: Canada's Past: A Country of Many Cultures; Canada
Today: A Land of Opportunity; and Canada of the Future. The Museum
wants you to choose the artifacts that will appear in Zone 1:
Canada's Past: A Country of Many Cultures. They want you to
choose the artifacts that will fit this theme and be interesting to
other high school students.
You will work in a team with two other curators to select the
museum artifacts you feel best relate to the theme of Canada's
Past: A Country of Many Cultures. The Museum is giving you access
to artifacts in three major collections: aboriginal history;
French-Canadian history; and immigrant history. You will search
these collections, select the artifacts that you think best
represent the multicultural diversity of Canada, and decide how you
will display the artifacts. Afterwards, you will present your
artifacts to your class, and explain why they should be part of
- Form a team of 3 curators.
Wondering what a curator is? See the Roles
section to find out. But don't select your area of expertise
just yet. First...
- View the artifact collections.
As a team, visit the three Museum web sites to view the available
artifacts and to learn more about the possible curator roles.
Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage
Crossroads of Culture
- Decide on the area of expertise for each curator.
Now you can take on the role of a curator for this project. Go back
to the Roles section for ideas of curatorial
- Research your collection.
Once you have decided on your specialty, familiarize yourself with
your collection. Use the three Museum web sites to view the
available artifacts and to find related information. Try to search
for objects. If you need help searching, see Search
- Discuss and refine the theme for the exhibition.
Your exhibition's working title is Canada's Past: A Country
of Many Cultures. What does this mean? Think of the cultures that
have made up Canada, from the first peoples, to the French and
English settlers, to immigrants from other countries. Decide what
the exhibition should focus on.
To refine the theme, think of how you would explain it in one
sentence. Museums call this the Main Idea or the Main Message. As a
group, write one sentence that is the Main Idea behind this
exhibition. Possible Main Ideas are:
Canada is a country that has been built by creative individuals
from many cultures.
From the time of the First Peoples, innovative people have made use
of Canada's rich resources to build their lives.
- Decide on criteria for selecting artifacts.
Much as you might like, you can't include all the artifacts in
the exhibition. You will need to narrow down your selection. As a
group, create criteria.
Some ideas for criteria are:
Represent a diversity of cultures, including aboriginals,
French-Canadian settlers and other immigrants
Diverse regions: come from different regions of Canada
Diverse materials: different materials
Diverse functions: have different functions
Visitor appeal: are appealing to high school students
Robust: will be able to withstand travelling
- On your own, select your top 10 artifacts.
Now you can return to your collection and find the artifacts you
feel best represent your theme. Use the criteria your team has
created. Be sure to search your categories thoroughly. Take note of
your most appropriate artifacts, and then narrow your list down to
- As a group, narrow down the team's selection, if
Present your artifacts to the rest of your team, and explain why
you think each belongs in the exhibit. Listen to your colleagues as
they present their artifacts. Ensure each artifact meets the
criteria you have set. Can you narrow down the selection? Or do you
want to keep all 40 artifacts?
- Decide how to display the artifacts.
How might you group the artifacts? How might you display them? Find
out about some display possibilities in the Display
- Think of a title and write an introductory text.
As a group, come up with a catchy title for this exhibition. Write
a text to introduce the exhibition. This text should be no longer
than 100 words. In a real exhibition, there would be a label for
each artifact and possibly other text. See Write A Label if you are interested in learning
about writing exhibition text.
- Create a presentation.
Decide on a format. Some options are a PowerPoint presentation,
two-dimensional mock-ups, and three-dimensional mock-ups. Include
your title and introductory text in this presentation. Have the
research notes from all of the artifacts you looked at on hand to
show others the range of artifacts you considered.
- Present your artifacts to your class.
Present your artifacts, and then listen to the presentations of
your classmates. You could also hold a display fair where you can
visit each group's display.
Use the Rubric to evaluate your
In this Webquest, you had the chance to learn about museum
collections and the people they tell us about, as well as the role
of the curator. You also had the chance to experience the work of
some of the other members of museum exhibition development teams
such as designers, interpretive planners (people who help shape the
content) and writers. Museums are treasure troves of valuable
artifacts that can tell us a lot about the people who came before
us. We hope this Webquest helped you understand how museums –
through their collections and creative, knowledgeable people - can
make the past come to life.
A Curator is a subject area specialist. Among other duties,
curators do research related to their subject area, acquire and
study artifacts, write research papers and books, and participate
in exhibition development as the content expert. At the Canadian
Museum of Civilization, there are Curators for many areas such as
Plains Archeology, Western Canadian History, Ethnology, and
Canadian Crafts, Decorative Arts and Design.
For this project, you need to define your curators. You could
have a Curator of Aboriginal Culture, Curator of French-Canadian
History, or Curator of Immigration History. You could also have a
Curator of: Archeology, Costumes, Trades and Technology, Decorative
Arts, Music, or Furniture. Or you could think of another title.
For all 3 sites: Select the Objects tab, and view the available
categories of objects. Select a category from the side menu, and
then at the bottom of the page, select "View all items in the
collection". A list of objects is displayed. Select the link
for an object to display a detailed version.
Search option for Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage only: Select the
Objects tab to view a map of Canada. Click on a region of Canada to
view a feature on culture areas, and then at the bottom of the
page, select "View all items in the collection".
Here are some of the common display methods used in museums.
In a display case
Description: a glassed-in case, often with shelves, either
free-standing on the floor or against a wall.
What would you display in a display case? Display cases are usually
used to display small or medium-sized artifacts that require
maximum protection. Larger artifacts are also displayed inside
cases if they are very delicate and require the maximum protection
from visitors and the environment.
On a platform
Description: a raised floor, often on small pedestals, beyond the
reach of visitors.
What would you display on a platform? You would choose this
technique for single artifacts or groups of artifacts that do not
require protection from the environment.
On a wall
Description: objects hang or are fastened to a wall.
What would you display on a wall? Framed images, such as paintings
and photographs, or flat objects, such as tools, are often
displayed on walls.
In a diorama or a period setting
Description: a recreated environment that combines reproduction
objects with real artifacts displayed as part of the environment;
for example, a kitchen from a 1930s Saskatchewan house with
artifacts from that period displayed on floor and on the counter.
What would you display in a diorama? You would choose this for
objects like furniture and household objects.
On a mannequin
Description: a human-like form.
What would you display on a mannequin? You would choose this for
displaying clothing. A mannequin can appear in a display case, on a
platform or in a diorama.
Many of these techniques can be combined. For example, a display
case can appear inside a diorama, and a mannequin can appear on a