National Museum Policy

Updated January 16, 2023:

As the next step in their National Museum Policy consultations, the Department of Canadian Heritage is planning a series of sectoral roundtables starting in the first quarter of 2023.

To help our sector speak with a unified voice, the BCMA has prepared the following key points that we encourage any members who participate in these consultations to draw upon.

National Museum Policy Consultations Timeline

January 2023
Website Launch

The Government of Canada launches a new website about the renewal of Canada’s National Museum Policy

Available here

Canadian Heritage publishes initial online survey results.

Available here

January -April

Invite-only roundtable consultations are planned with members of the museum sector, the general public, and Indigenous representatives during the first quarter of 2023 (January to April).

These sessions will discuss the following themes:

  1. role of museums in society;
  2. resilience and sustainability in the sector;
  3. reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples;
  4. equity, diversity and inclusion; and
  5. preservation and access, including the digital transformation.

Public consultations, open to all Canadians, will be held from January-February 2023

Canadians will have an opportunity to complete an online survey, to be launched in January 2023. A link to the survey will be made available on the national museum policy website. The BCMA will also share the link with members once it is available.

Mid-to-late 2023

Canadian Heritage intends to bring forward a revised framework and/or recommendations to the cabinet some time between the second and third quarters of 2023.

Key Points for Consultations

In December the BCMA held an online meeting with members to discuss the National Museum Policy and our sector’s goals for a modernized policy (please refer to this page for a summary of this meeting and a link to an open brainstorming Jam Board). Based on member feedback and discussions with our national and provincial partners, the BCMA recommends the following key points as background for anyone participating in consultations.


The Government of Canada works to increase Museum Assistance Program (MAP) funding to $50,000,000 by 2028.

    1. MAP funding has not been adjusted for inflation since the 1970s. If MAP funding had kept pace with inflation, annual funding would be around $100 million. Increase MAP annual funding to $50,000,000 by 2028.
    2. Create a stream of MAP funding to support operating costs.
    3. Create a stream of MAP that supports sustainability initiatives, green infrastructure, and climate change mitigation.


Create new components of MAP that offers dedicated funding to support specific concerns of Indigenous arts, culture, and heritage, and increase the funding available across all Indigenous MAP streams.

    1. Create a stream of MAP that offers dedicated, ongoing financial support for repatriation/rematriation research and work.
    2. Create a stream of MAP that MAP supports capacity-building (both in terms of training and in terms of infrastructure) for First Nations, Indigenous cultural centres, and Indigenous-led heritage organizations.
    3. Consult Indigenous communities and heritage professionals to remove barriers from current and future funding programs and ensure that all programs are responsive to community needs.


Revise Young Canada Works (YCW) funding to better reflect the realities of the modern and future workforce.

    1. Remove age restrictions on YCW funding and/or create a complimentary funding program that supports Emerging Museum Professionals over 30.
    2. Require all YCW-funded positions to pay, at minimum, a living wage.
    3. Streamline hiring subsidy programs to make this essential funding more accessible to smaller museums/heritage institutions and historically underrepresented cultural organizations.


Modernize all aspects of how the policy defines, views, and supports museums and museum workers/volunteers.

      1. Redefine “heritage institutions” to include a broader array of institutions and remove the requirement that heritage institutions hold collections.
      2. Modernize services like CHIN and CCI to include more timely and relevant support and learning opportunities.
      3. Develop a framework to assess applicants’ equity and reconciliation work when adjudicating MAP grants to ensure that heritage institutions are supporting equity and actioning UNDRIP in their work and governance. And offer funding for museums to access equity and reconciliation training.

Key Studies and Data

In addition to employing over 35,000 people, Canada’s museum and heritage sector generates close to $9 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits every year.

Key data from Reconsidering Museums: 

  • Canadians believe that 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.”

BCMA Information Session

As the Government of Canada prepares to update its national museum policy for the first time in 30 years, it is critical that museums, galleries, and cultural institutions make our voices heard to help build a policy that supports our sector now, and into the future.

On December 8, the BCMA held a member engagement session to hear what our sector wishes to see included in the new national museum policy. This post contains links to information covered in this session and answers to frequently asked questions about the history and role of the national museum policy.

A copy of the December 8 national museum policy member briefing is available below.

Frequently asked questions

What is the 1990 national museum policy?

The 1990 policy was an update to Canada’s first 1972 national museum policy and introduced new goals for the museum sector, including a focus on preserving collections, providing Canadians with access to heritage and enhancing excellence in museum activities. Canada’s museum policy informs the government’s program response to the heritage sector. The policy may inform the legislative, financial and administrative arrangements made by the Government of Canada to support museums and can help inform the decisions taken by each individual museum to establish its own place in the community. 


Where can I find the 1990 national museum policy?

You can download a PDF photocopy of the 1990 policy here.

Federal museum funding has remained basically at $15 million per year since 1972, how much would this be when adjusted for inflation?

According to the Bank of Canada, when adjusted for inflation $15 million in 1972 would be worth $103,452,914.80 today.


Is there still time to respond to the survey from the Department of Canadian Heritage?

The survey closed on November 18, 2022. The BCMA looks forward to sharing updates about the results of the survey when details are available.