Diamond Jubilee celebrations at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Remarks by the Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada
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Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to be a part of this special Diamond Jubilee Festival. I would like at this time to extend a special thank you to Dr. Victoria Dickenson, the Executive Director and CEO of the McMichael Art Collection. I am proud and humbled to be included in these ceremonies, both as the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and as a Canadian.

The Aboriginal ceremony we have been privileged to experience today serves as a marker for how far we have come as a nation. By featuring it as a key element of this Diamond Jubilee celebration, we acknowledge a unique historical relationship between the Crown and our Aboriginal peoples. At the same time, we pay tribute to an ongoing process of healing and reconciliation, and we are honoured to have with us today representatives of both our Aboriginal peoples and Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

All of the events taking place here today, and in the world of history at large, speak to the importance of understanding such a process in the wider context of our heritage. Because heritage is rooted not only in historical records and documents, but also in a conception that is broad enough to include all aspects of our lives. This far-reaching consciousness can encompass many converging elements, such as those represented here today: the concept of justice and reconciliation; the world of art; the role of partnerships in nation building; and the presence of memory itself.

And so I am extremely glad to share with you the travelling exhibition Double Take: Portraits of Intriguing Canadians. Double Take is an excellent example of this broad consciousness, and our modernized approach to making Canada’s history and heritage as accessible as possible.

It seems fitting that LAC’s exhibition is on display here, as the McMichael is one of our nation’s premiere venues for a comprehensive introduction to Canada's art, its peoples, their cultures and their history, all of which are interwoven in a narrative that is both complex and compelling.

This institution houses many artists who have made a contribution to Canada's artistic heritage. Double Take complements this contribution by offering a seldom-seen glimpse into this country’s documentary heritage.
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Through travelling exhibitions like this one, LAC demonstrates its continuing commitment to bringing the materials in its collection to all Canadians, regardless of where they live.

To accomplish this, we rely on partnerships, such as the one we have established with the McMichael Gallery. Through these collaborative initiatives, we have been able to make original works of documentary art accessible in galleries, museums and other community venues, as well as online.

Double Take showcases the richness and diversity of the national collection of portraits, some of which are on display for the first time.

With close to 100 works featured in the exhibition, visitors get an unexpected peek behind the façade of a number of interesting Canadians, from Kim Campbell to Louis Riel.

LAC documentary art will be for many Canadians the exciting gateway to the broader wealth of holdings that Library and Archives Canada possesses. Through their depictions of renowned and lesser-known Canadians, these portraits allow us to discover a myriad of documents explaining the multiple facets of Canadian life over time.

The portraits of over 50 Canadians tell compelling stories of assumed identity, assassination, exploitation, discovery, invention, injustice, activism and achievement, with works spanning four centuries.

Using a variety of media, including paintings, photographs, cartoons, drawings, videos and sculptures, the exhibition asks visitors to do a “double take,” as they discover the many sides of individuals and public figures.

The exhibition will run at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection until the beginning of January 2013, and will then move on to another venue and be on display through 2014.

This is also perhaps a good time to ask visitors to do a “double take” on Library and Archives Canada itself, as we continue to invest in programming that allows Canadians to discover their country in bold new ways, including on the Web and via social media.

I sincerely hope that this exhibition, as it travels across Canada, will promote dialogue and discussion not only about some of the more memorable figures in Canadian history, but also about the possibilities that are open to us when we work together towards a shared vision of our future.

Thank you.
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