Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Media Museum?

Our favourite media fantasy involves Ontario's print, television and radio execs agreeing to sponsor the province's first all-inclusive media museum.

Ontario now hosts a war museum, several airplane and automobile museums, police and firefighters museums, baseball and hockey museums, a shoe museum etc.

Why not create an elaborate media museum, with three separate wings for artifacts from Ontario newspapers and magazines, radio broadcasting and television broadcasting?

Ontario newspapers, first published in 1793, have been around for 214 years, radio and television for six to eight decades. What media stories there are to tell and to illustrate.

The Print Wing: Cover the walls with framed reproductions of front pages; display vintage cameras, old newspaper signs and tools of the trade, including early wooden presses, linotype machines, composing room type, print trays etc.

The Radio Wing: Exhibit equipment from eight decades of radio broadcasting, including microphones, sound effects equipment; cover the walls with photos of Ontario broadcasting legends; play recordings of vintage radio programs and major news, sports and entertainment events etc.

The Television Wing: Television sets of many shapes and sizes dating back to the 1950's; photos of television celebrities; studio cameras and props; a playback area where visitors could view clips of vintage television programs etc.

There could also be a central library, where visitors could read a selection of vintage newspapers and magazines and books written by a cross-section of Ontario authors in the media.

There are pockets of media displays in the province now, including the CBC broadcasting exhibit in Toronto; the War Museum in Ottawa hosts a collection of World War 1 and 2 newspaper clippings from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Hamilton Spectator etc.

The Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum in Queenston, housed in the restored home of rebel publisher William Lyon Mackenzie, boasts "500 years of printing technology, amid the authentic ambiance of a period print shop."

The pride of the museum is a Louis Roy Press, the oldest printing press in Canada and "one of the few original wooden presses remaining in the world." It also has a working linotype and eight operating heritage presses.

But the media museum in our fantasy would gather a wide range of Ontario's media artifacts and memorabilia and exhibit them under one roof.

Sun Media owns the Toronto Telegram archives and the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail have access to a wide range of print memorabilia. Add contributions from other newspapers and broadcast media across the province and you are ready to open the media museum.

Newspapers, magazines, television and radio are international consumer products, which could make an Ontario media museum a major tourist attraction, if properly planned and managed.

Could 21st century media reps from across Ontario come together to pull it off?

In a word, yes.

Will they?

Well, it is a favourite fantasy.

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