Paper prepared by
Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO,
Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
with the assistance of Stephen Alsford, Web Site Manager
For “Museums, Media and Tourist Attractions”,
the 6th World Colloquium of the International Association of Museums of History
Lahti, Finland, May 2002
The Internet provides a relatively new tool for a function that is not new: museum outreach. Museums have been engaged in public outreach for decades through initiatives such as travelling exhibitions, publications, educational programmes, and professional conferences. They have also reached out to potential audiences through a range of media, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, trade fairs and tourism expos. The Internet adds a new tool – along with some new challenges and opportunities – to these activities. I want to offer a Canadian perspective on these challenges and opportunities and examine how they may shape the future of museum activities.
Canada has the highest per capita use of the Internet in the world. The vast size of our country and the remoteness of many rural communities have forced our society to develop an innovative, effective and intensive national communications infrastructure, together with the industry and the public policies necessary to foster that infrastructure. The organization which I lead, the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) 1, is our national museum of human history. It has the legislated mandate “to increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of Â… human cultural achievements and human behaviour“. Given the national and international scope of our audiences, and the limits to operating an institution physically rooted in a single location, it was natural that the CMCC become involved with the Internet, at an early stage in the emergence of the World Wide Web.