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Secrets of Canadian Museums Revealed

Photographs that were seized by the government due to possible national-defense issues. Ancient Paleo-Indian tools stored in an airplane barf bag. Paintings stolen in the 1960s that still have cut lines visible around their edges in the 2010s.

These are just some of the secrets of Canadian museums that have been revealed today on Twitter under the hashtag #secretsMW.

Created for the first day of international Museum Week, which runs March 28 to April 3, the #secretsMW hashtag encourages museums worldwide to reveal behind-the-scenes views of their activities.

Museum Week, which originated in Paris, is being touted as “the first worldwide cultural event on Twitter.” Other hashtags for Museum Week include #peopleMW (March 30), #futureMW (April 1), and #loveMW (April 3).

For #secretsMW, the Rooms in St. John’s, Newfoundland, chose to highlight archival photographs of a German U-boat that surrendered to Canadians off of Cape Race, Newfoundland, on May 11, 1945, and was later sailed into St. John’s Harbour. The photograph is one of more than 500 images the Rooms owns that were once seized by the government due to wartime defense concerns.

“Sometimes, when you’re in the field & you don’t have a proper container, you use a barf bag.” This is what Kiron Mukherjee of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto revealed alongside #secretsMW photographs of 5,000-to-10,000 year old First Nations tool artifacts from the Lake Abitibi region that had been stored in—yes—an airplane motion sickness bag.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton, for its part, used #secretsMW to remind the public of the fact that on April 6, 1960, 11 paintings were cut from their frames and stolen from the gallery’s Forsythe Avenue location. The paintings were recovered damaged in 1965 due to an anonymous tip, and then sent to the National Gallery of Canada for restoration. Cut lines from the robbery are still visible around the edge of the AGH’s painting Le Jeune Fitz-James by Fantin-Latour.

Here are some of the other Canadian museum secrets revealed today on Twitter:

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