Established a scant half century ago, the Canadian War Museum has a mandate to document, examine and present our national military heritage to the people of Canada, about 200,000 of whom grace its halls annually. If the Museum is to be anything more than a collection of trophies or a veterans’ touchstone, this story must be interestingly told with historical balance, accuracy and dignity. It is hoped that the following brief account of a recent exhibit will illustrate how this goal is sought and, occasionally, accomplished.
The lack of a Korea Gallery in the national military museum was not an intentional slight against those 25,000 Canadians who served in the United Nations police action. The exhibit “philosophy” prior to the 1980s tended to focus on commanders and technology of the world wars, at the expense of later events like peacekeeping and the Cold War. Allusions to Koera were found in art shows and weapons displays, but a didactic exhibit on the Canadian experience in Korea had to wait until forty years after the conflict.
The primary reason for building the Korea Gallery was to fulfil the Museum’s mandate and complete the chronological storyline of Canada’s military experience. The guiding precepts were to present an attractive, historically-balanced exhibit that would also link the existing Second World War Gallery with the proposed permanent exhibit, “Canada’s Peacekeepers” (oepning in June 1996). The timing of the project was fortuitous in that it immediately preceded government cutbacks which reduced the staff by nearly 30 per cent.
Reid, Mark "Making Bricks Without Straws: The Development of the Korean War Exhibit at the Canadian War Museum." Canadian Military History 5, 1 (1996)