CURRENT ISSUE | FALL 2017: THE IDEA OF HISTORY
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What Was Revealed During Canada’s #AskACurator Day

This year’s #AskACurator day—the annual social-media Q&A blitz—was not without controversy internationally.

One British Museum curator was called out for racism and an (admittedly humourous) debate erupted between a science museum and a natural history museum in the UK.

In Canada, the dialogue was quieter. But a few shortfalls, curiosities and treasures were nonetheless revealed.

On the political front, a question to the Canadian Museum of History revealed that its curators would have liked to expand more on arts and culture in its new hall—but couldn’t due to space constraints.

On a related note, the National Gallery of Canada revealed that only about two percent of its collection is on display at any given time:

In the curios section, Ontario museum professional Fraser McDonald prompted a few international museums to share Canada-related works from their collections

The responses included a New Brunswick sketchbook at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and a stuffed walrus at Poole’s Horniman Museum:

Canadian tweeter Dan McKnight asked several international and domestic museums to share Canadian-related objects in their collections.

This yielded immigration-area photos from Detroit, a medal awarded to a First Nations fighter stored in London and (strangest of all) a box of tissues that once travelled with the Queen. (That last one is at the Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.)

And no curatorial foray on social media would be complete without consideration of ancient Canadian video game technology and a Roman nail clipper.

Not to mention a lasting collections-based mystery.

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