Truth Be Bold

Whose Truth?

Museums have long asserted themselves as the authority, the experts, the holders of truth. But historically, they have often told half-truths, singular narratives, or misinterpretations entirely. Museums can do better. The truth is that there is more than one truth. By collecting and sharing multiple, parallel, and divergent perspectives, museums have an opportunity to tell a fuller truth about our shared history. A truth that is not singular but contains multitudes.

“Present the truth above all else; the full picture, ‘warts and all’, not just the sunnier side of our history.”

Museums for Me survey respondent

“Society needs to hear harsh truths and sometimes a museum is the only place they will see and hear that.”

Museums for Me survey respondent

In 2020, Reconsidering Museums asked Canadians from all regions and with diverse backgrounds and interests, what do museums mean to you? Here is some of what we heard.

Museums are…

Trusted: 80% of respondents think museums are a credible source of information, “When done right, museums can be one of the few places that still hold community trust.”

Educators: 95% of respondents think that the museum is a place to learn and be inspired, “Museums taught me about new ways to communicate. They taught me the value of objects as messages from other times or places.”

Stewards: 95% of respondents think that the museum is a place to preserve and care for art and objects, and to tell their stories, “Museums preserve common inheritances. They keep objects and archives as historical evidence.”

Museums should…

Tell the truth about their local history, collect and exhibit diverse perspectives, and share authority with their communities.

What is a truth that you think museums should be sharing?