The Socieacute;teacute; des museacute;es queacute;beacute;cois (SMQ - Association of Quebec Museums), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1958. In 1973, it established a structure allowing it to act as the representative of museum institutions in Quebec (regardless of their size, mandate or geographic location) and on behalf of museography and museology professionals. Today, the association represents 300 museum institutions and more than 600 individual members.
The Observatoire des museacute;es (Museum Observatory), the SMQ Website, is a true gateway to museums and museology for the public, divided into two major parts: Museums to Discover, a showcase for museums in Quebec, and a section called Espace professionnel (Professional Space), containing information, opinions and discussions for professionals in the field.
Museums to Discover
Inaugurated in May 2002, Museums to Discover is a unique site that throws open the doors to all the museums in Quebec, all at a single address! The goal of Museums to Discover is to promote exhibitions and activities and to introduce visitors to the tremendous wealth and diversity of museum collections in Quebec.
Museums to Discover consists of six sections. The Les collections s'animent! section presents short clips and animated pictures showcasing artwork and objects of all kinds. Different themes and viewpoints highlight the diversity and wealth of museum collections. This is an introduction to another section called La reacute;serve virtuelle, a space resembling the kind of storeroom where museums keep art work and artifacts. You can see more than 2,500 pieces and get a taste of the art, history, archaeology and science collections on offer at Quebec's museums. The section called Zone scolaire offers a host of activities for elementary and secondary students, along with resources for Quebec teachers. This "school zone" is sure to spark young people's interest in art and history and helps prepare them for a museum visit.
Three other sections provide specific museum information for visitors and tourists. Placed strategically on the home page, the pull-down menus of the Thematic Routes and Museum Guide sections offer all sorts of addresses for Internet visitors, so they can choose their destination and the activities that interest them. These parts of the site were designed with close attention to the needs and interests of the general public. The Museum Guide was able to dispense with the typical description of the institutional mission and adopt a better-targeted strategy geared to an audience eager to know "what there is to discover, see and do" in museums. The Calendrier d'expositions section also has a strategically placed pull-down menu and works in much the same way, displaying a new listing of activities every two weeks. In addition, it allows Website visitors to make decisions according to the region they wish to visit or the type of activity or subject that sparks their interest. Tour itineraries, from simple Sunday excursions to extended trips, are packed with more details all the time. This is the underlying logic in the development of the Thematic Routes section, with 70 "customized" routes designed around 24 themes reflecting specific aspects of Quebec's heritage. These inter-regional tours come with maps pinpointing specific routes, making it easy to identify institutions related to the chosen theme. Website visitors can then print out a map and list of addresses, and hit the museum highwayhellip;
A useful launchpad
Because of its very nature, Museums to Discover is constantly evolving. In years to come it will be enriched with new content. The SMQ still faces the challenge of translating other parts of this Francophone site into English (at this time only the Thematic Routes and Museum Guide sections are in English). Another major challenge is to keep the listing of activities and site content well presented and up to date. This requires regular participation by institutions throughout the museum network, and illustrates the efficiency of the site.
The aim of Museums to Discover is to increase public awareness of what museums have to offer and to boost their attendance, positioning them as major national and international tourist attractions. Consequently, the SMQ has already begun a new "cultural tourism" project, with links to this Website, including new content for tour operators and cybermarketing strategies. As a launchpad for exploring Quebec's museum attractions, Museums to Discover generates many opportunities for new approaches to promotion and commercialization. It's a work in progress!
Museums to Discover was developed by the Socieacute;teacute; des museacute;es queacute;beacute;cois in conjunction with Teacute;leacute;-Queacute;bec and with the financial support of the Quebec Department of Culture and Communications and Canada Economic Development. Technical and graphic production was handled by Espace courbe.
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