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Canada’s brand of nationalism celebrates diversity – as long as it doesn’t challenge the unity, authority, or legitimacy of the state. In Exhibiting Nation, Caitlin Gordon-Walker explores this tension between unity and diversity in three nationally recognized museums, institutions that must make judgments about what counts as “too different” in order to celebrate who we are as a people and a nation.
Exhibiting Nation takes readers on a journey through the Royal BC Museum, the Royal Alberta Museum, and the Royal Ontario Museum, stopping to focus on exhibitions, programs, and architectural features that demonstrate how notions of unity in diversity have shaped the way museums engage visitors’ senses and make use of space. Although the contradictions that lie at the heart of multicultural nationalism have the potential to constrain political engagement and dialogue, Gordon-Walker concludes that the sensory feasts on display in Canada’s museums provide a space for citizens to both question and renegotiate the limits of their national vision.