The number of curators doing research at the Canadian Museum of Civilization has dropped by a third since 2005, according to information released at the request of an opposition MP.
As of February 2013, the national museum in Gatineau, Que., had 16 scholars of anthropology, archaeology, art history, Canadian history, ethnomusicology, folklore and physical anthropology. In 2005-2006, it had 24.
The areas of anthropology and archaeology experienced the most noticeable change, falling from seven to four curators each.
In the same time period the museum added two historians specializing in Canadian history, to reach a current total of four.
Museum being renamed
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is in the process of being renamed the Canadian Museum of History.
Heritage Minister James Moore tabled legislation in parliament last fall to change its mandate from a focus on "human cultural achievements and human behaviour" to a focus on "events, experiences and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada's history and identity".
When the $25 million renovation and renaming was announced in October, 2012, Moore said "Canadians deserve a national museum that tells our stories and presents our country's treasures to the world."
The figures about research staff levels were requested by NDP MP Andrew Cash, who has accused the government of trying to rebrand the museum in its image.
CBC studied the documents he received and found the overall number of staff involved in research, including curators and historians, fell from 39 to 32.
Decline in proportion with drop in staff levels
That decline is in proportion with an overall drop in staff levels at the Museum of Civilization, from 524 to 437, according to museum spokesperson, Patricia Lynch.
The research jobs affected were not cut, Lynch added, but were employees who left after "long, illustrious careers."
"The museum maintains its capacity to put an appropriate amount of focus on the issues in keeping with our mandate."
"We have historians, we have all the people in the fields where we are heading," Lynch said, noting the museum is putting the finishing touches on a new strategy that will guide decisions about research and the areas it will make a priority.
That strategy, which Lynch said includes a major focus on Aboriginal history and cultures, should be made public in the coming months.