In its 1951 report, the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences recommended that a Museum of Science be established to “illustrate in general the contributions of Canada to scientific research, to applied science and medicine, to invention and to technical development” (Royal Commission, p. 324). In 1960, J.H. Parkin built on this recommendation with a proposal for a national museum with a dual purpose: “to create a ‘visual record’ of Canadian achievements in science and technology, and to provide an educational resource on the history of science and technology for popular and scholarly visitors alike (Babaian, p. 4).” The National Science Museum Support Committee formed in 1965 and conducted extensive consultations before submitting a brief on 5 November 1965 to Under Secretary of State G.G.E. Steele. In the fall of 1966, David McCurdy Baird was appointed Director of the Science and Technology Branch of the National Museum of Canada” (Babaian, p.11). The National Science and Technology Museum opened its doors 17 November 1967.
The Museum’s building, formerly a warehouse occupied by the local bakery Morrison Lamothe, was intended to be temporary. At the beginning on the 1960s, there had been concurrent proposals for the development of the national museums, including the idea to have a central campus for all National Museum of Canada buildings in downtown Ottawa. This plan did not come to fruition, but the idea to centralize common museum functions was enshrined in the National Museums Act, proclaimed 1 April 1968. The Act created a single corporation comprising the National Gallery of Canada, the National Museum of Man, the National Museum of Natural Sciences, and the National Museum of Science and Technology. The National Museums of Canada Corporation (NMC) was governed by a 14 member board of trustees and a secretary-general. The directors for each Museum acted on behalf of the Board and were responsible for the activities of their respective museums (Babaian, p. 23).
Beyond this common governance structure, the library service was a common service. A NMC reference librarian provided public access to the library collections. Since its first years, the Museum had been acquiring 2-D material (library and archival material) in addition to 3-D artifacts. Staff also built curated collections of historical photographs acquired from a variety of sources. 2-D material was featured and reproduced in museum exhibitions. The Museum also had a records office to preserve corporate records. However, by 1986 the Museum’s Collection and Research Division was concerned about the management of archival resources in the collections and commissioned a study to address this question. At the time, it was decided to continue as before with the transfer of administrative and operational records to the National Archives of Canada and the management of historical archival material with museum materials.
The National Museum of Science and Technology Corporation (NMSTC) was established as an autonomous crown corporation on 1 July 1990 with the passage of the Museums Act. The Corporation included both the National Aviation Museum and the National Museum of Science and Technology. NMC staff assigned to the two museums became the NMSTC staff. Although an agreement was signed with Agriculture Canada to establish the Agriculture Museum back in 1983, the Corporation’s responsibility expanded in 1995, so that the Corporation was said from then on to comprise three museums.
Library staff provided access to 2-D collections from the three museums at the two locations where the library and archival holdings were stored: the National Museum of Science and Technology and the National Aviation Museum. In 1999, the Corporation built a dedicated storage space for archives at the National Museum of Science and Technology and began hiring staff dedicated to archival work. The Corporation was also renamed the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation (CSTMC) in 1999, and the museums were renamed as well: the Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM), the Canada Agriculture Museum (CAGM), and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (CASM). The Corporation introduced two important web exhibitions and image banks to provide access to the archival collections preserved at CSTM in the 2000s: CN Images of Canada (2001) and Picturing the Past (2006). The Library and Archives remained open when CSTM’s building was closed to the public for repairs in September 2014. The Corporation was rebranded Ingenium in June 2017 and the Museum reopened in November 2017.
The Library and Archives of the Canada Science and Technology Museum preserves published and unpublished material relating to the history of science and technology in Canada. The holdings include the archival collections of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum as well. The archives, monographs, periodicals, trade literature and technical manuals come from Canadian companies and individuals working in such fields as manufacturing, transportation, communication, agriculture, natural resources, and physical sciences.