Visited June 2012.
We stumbled onto this museum while walking through Vieux Montreal. We were walking down a hundreds-year-old street with chic stores and foodie restaurants, and saw a sandwich sign on the street in front of an ice cream parlor announcing the Maple Museum, free admission.
They didn’t need to say more.
Produced by the Citadelle Maple Syrup Producer’s Cooperative, the Maple Museum tells the story of how maple syrup is made, from harvest to bottle. When doing so, the exhibition also describes the emergence of technical developments in the process of tapping trees for sap and processing the sap into syrup, explains the different grades of syrup and their uses and, because this is a corporate museum, also interjects the story of the cooperative that owns the museum.
Although a clear marketing message is present, the focus remains on the technical information, which is presented engagingly and clearly in the one-room exhibition. The exhibition also contains some interesting historical artifacts, such as old sap pails and old maple sugar molds.
However, it is primarily a book on a wall, where the bulk of the story is told through lengthy wall labels.
The museum is located on the lower level of a two-story Canadian Maple Delights Store, the retail arm of the cooperative, whose upper level features a store on maple products (featuring, of course, lots of maple products), sandwiched between the washrooms and the ice cream store. (As impossible as this might be to believe, we left without buying anything.)
I learned that a corporate museum can be integrated into a retail operation and that an effective one, like this one, focuses on the technical information. Many customers want to learn how the company makes its products.
Fast Facts about the Museum
Type of Museum: Corporate
Highlights of the Permanent Collection: Examples of machinery used to harvest, process, and present maple, photos of maple harvesting and processing, and a timeline of developments in the manufacture of maple.
Special Amenities: Apparently, the company has similar exhibitions in some of its other stores.
Admission Discounts: Not needed—admission is free. (But I bet they hope you buy something.)
Issues to Consider When Visiting: Surrounded by candy and ice cream—resistance needed!