Messages from the Mosaic

2018, Canadian Language Museum, Culture, Digital
Canada, changes, digital, education, history, interactive, language, mosaic, multicultural, trends
About This Project

Project Members:​ Mairead Murphy, Zhuohua Yang

Dates:​ 1 May 2018 – ongoing


Messages from the Mosaic is a bilingual digital exhibition about the languages of Canada. Using text, audio, and interactive elements, Messages explores the history, trends, and challenges surrounding Canada’s transforming language mosaic. Visitors will learn about the history of Canadian languages from past to present, Canada’s most spoken languages, Canada’s fastest-growing languages, what languages Canadians use at home and at work, and much more.


Messages is intended for anyone who would like to learn more about Canada’s languages—you don’t have to be Canadian to learn from this exhibition. Although all of the exhibition’s content is family-friendly, the exhibition is recommended for visitors 16 years and older. Text is written for a high school age level.


Messages is a digital exhibition. Visitors may find it at or through the website of the Canadian Language Museum: Visitors to the website may select a French or English version of the exhibition.

The Canadian Language Museum was a major contributor to this exhibition, providing guidance, research resources, funding and promotion. Students at Glendon College produced the French translation of the exhibition. The University of Toronto Faculty of Information provided financial support and advice.


Planning for the exhibition began in October 2017. Research, website storyboarding and content planning wrapped up at the end of 2017. The curators also selected the Squarespace platform for the exhibition at this time. All exhibition text was submitted at the end of January 2018. The curators then gathered the needed audiovisual resources for the exhibition. In February 2018, the curators set up the exhibition’s domain and Squarespace account. Installation of the digital exhibition began in mid-March 2018 and will conclude in mid-April. Final testing and adjustments will precede the exhibition’s opening in early May.


Messages from the Mosaic is made up of 6 sections: Canada’s Language Mosaic, Language in Canada: A Timeline, The Shifting Mosaic, Language Loss in Canada, Recovery and Resilience, and Looking Ahead. The visitor starts with Canada’s Language Mosaic and moves through each section in a linear manner to Looking Ahead. Each of these sections uses a mixture of text and visual elements to tell the visitor about the subject matter. Visitors can consult graphs about language use and look at a map of Canada’s Indigenous language families, for instance. The exhibition also features many interactive elements: audio clips, embedded video, buttons, a clickable timeline with embedded links and illustrations, an interactive language map, and tooltips for special terms.


Marketing for the exhibition was primarily digital. The Canadian Language Museum advertised the website through newsletters and digital promotions. The curators promoted the exhibition through social media channels. The exhibition was also promoted through a poster distributed by the Master of Museum Studies program and was included among the program’s regular promotions for the exhibition class projects. The exhibition will also share an opening reception at the Museum’s Glendon Gallery location along with the Legacies Photo Exhibit created by Dr. Gina Valle.


Our exhibition is not up yet so we are still waiting for our final outcomes. At the time of this writing, we still need to perform final proofreads and user tests. We also need to assemble the French version of the exhibition. We hope to have lots of visitors to the exhibition and few technical glitches!


We would like to thank both of our sponsors: the Canadian Language Museum and the Faculty of Information. We would like to especially thank Elaine Gold, whose guidance and expertise was an invaluable part of this exhibition’s creation and development. A huge thanks to our Glendon College translators: Shannon Benigi-an Mulholland, Alexandra de Paiva Guimaraes, Isabelle Lepage and Kim Poti, as well as their instructor Lyse Hébert. Thank you to our Museum Studies advisors: Matthew Brower, Rebecca Noone and Camille-Mary Sharp. Thanks also goes to Stephanie Pile, Brenna Pladsen and Orvis Starkweather for their technical advice early on in the project.