Tour virtual museums in Canada

No need to buy plane tickets, just check out website

What you can do on a rainy weekend when you are not inspired to get out of your housecoat and slippers and leave your home?

Why not spend the day as a vicarious museum visitor doing a crawl of heritage institutions across the country – no shoes or admission fee required.

Grab a cup of coffee, head to your computer and prepare to spend hours checking out the site.

Brought to you by the Government of Canada, the Canadian Heritage Information Network is a department of Heritage Canada.

CHIN was created in 1972 with the purpose of helping “heritage institutions to use information and communications technologies for the greater benefit of Canadians.”

HIN’s Virtual Museum of Canada began in 2001 as a portal for Canadian museums to take their wealth of information into homes, schools, work sites and other institutions around the world.

Your first stop:  click on “Virtual Museum of Canada,” then on “Virtual Exhibits.”

Now you might want to search “Pitt Meadows” to view this museum’s two contributions – “Buildings through Time:  Harris Road Then and Now” and “One Man’s Passion:  Hans Hoffmann’s Engines” – both of which were developed under CHIN’s Community Memories program.

Or, you can click on the search icons including subject, museum, and theme.

One new exhibit that many, including non-traditional museum visitors, will find interesting is “In Search of the Canadian Car.”

Your second stop, also found in “Virtual Exhibits” (and at the Home page) is the “History Matters” podcast with short videos on a plethora of subjects, including the Last Spike, the R-100 Airship, and the Bralorne Bridge.

Another tab, the “Image Gallery” is a great way to browse photos of objects and other material found in the collections of a selection of museums across Canada.

Finally, in this exhibits area you can also click on “MyVMC” and create your own virtual museum using information from you favorite sites in the virtual exhibits area.

Your third stop:  return to the home page click on the Professional Development icon.  Once there, click on the “Artefacts Canada” tab and be prepared to be wowed by the four million objects (800,000 of them with images) that have been uploaded to the site by museums across Canada.  Here you can search on key words. For example, type in “Pitt Meadows” and you will get a selection of Leonard Frank images shot at Pitt Lake in the early 20th Century and are now housed at (and uploaded from) the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.

Finally, now that your interest has been piqued, click on the “Museums in Canada” tab and you are able to look up the location of 3,000 Canadian museums (349 of them in B.C.), including the Pitt Meadows Museum and Archives.

When the weather clears, or even before, consider a virtual visit at one or more of these institutions that know “history matters.”


Leslie Norman is curator at Pitt Meadows Museum.