Canadian Museum of Nature
Canada’s First National Museum - The Museum of Nature
There are 7 major museums within the city of Ottawa. The Museum of Nature is one of Canada’s national museums of natural history and the first to be established within Canada’s nation's capital.
The Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa is a must-see destination for anyone interested in natural history. The museum is home to an impressive collection of over 10 million specimens, including fossils, minerals, plants, and animals from all over the world.
It is visibly distinguishable from the outside by its architectural accents and its massive hanging moon within the surrounding glass panels. Inside the old historic building, you’ll find dinosaur replicas, whale skeletons, an Arctic gallery, mammals, minerals, birds, insects, and flora. Some events and activities even feature live animals.
On the inside, the museum showcases its world-class galleries and educational programs in Canada’s first national museum building, a historic site that opened in 1912.
The Natural Heritage Campus, a state-of-the-art research facility located in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada’s national natural history collections was able to provide resources over time with vital records to study environmental change. Additional insight from staff and experts working in the lab or in the field reveals work throughout the museum and is made accessible within.
Canada is all about nature. The beautiful vistas and wildlife you expect to see are all on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Just minutes from Parliament Hill, the Museum’s permanent collection includes dioramas of iconic Canadian mammals in their natural habitats, Canada’s original collection of dinosaur fossils, an enormous blue whale skeleton, and much more. 3D movies, special exhibitions and guided tours are also available.
The Canadian Museum of Nature was the first purpose-built museum in the country. It is recognized for the interdependence of its learning and research components and a collection that includes 10 million specimens gathered over 150 years.
One of the highlights of the museum is the fossils gallery, where visitors can see a variety of prehistoric creatures, including a complete skeleton of a hadrosaur, one of the most complete dinosaur fossils ever found in Canada. The gallery also features a cast of a T-Rex skull and a replica of a stegosaurus.
The Bird Gallery is another must-see exhibit, featuring over 700 specimens of birds from all over the world, including the extinct great auk and the near-extinct whooping crane. The museum also has a large collection of minerals and gems, including a fluorescent mineral exhibit illuminated by black light.
The museum also has an impressive collection of live animals, including a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and a Butterfly Gallery where visitors can walk among live butterflies.
The Canadian Museum of Nature also offers a variety of educational programs and activities for children and families, including hands-on workshops, guided tours, and special events. The museum also offers a number of research and scientific programs and hosts lectures and workshops by experts in various fields.
The original building – known as the Victoria Memorial Museum Building - was designed in the Beaux-Arts Style by David Ewart. Shortly after its completion in 1912, the stone tower began to sink into the ground. In 1915, the upper part of the tower was removed to de-load the structure, leaving the base as the main entrance vestibule but consequently diminishing the building’s original composition, and impacting the original clarity of the Beaux Arts plan.
The revitalization project showcases the original heritage building, using contemporary architecture to generate a dialogue between past and present. It also prioritizes the Museum’s collections and its research activities, while improving its public outreach. The parking surrounding the building was once one of the biggest liabilities to the museum’s image. By relocating parking to the east side of the site, space was gained to create a significant below-grade addition on the south in which the back-of-house operational functions of the museum are consolidated, including mechanical and electrical, loading, waste handling, security, and catering functions. The roof is slightly elevated above the street and is adapted as landscaped terraces for the enjoyment of visitors and the public.
The South Terrace creates an indoor/outdoor precinct for casual and formal gatherings of up to 500 people. Set apart from the walls and foundations of the heritage building, the Terrace is linked to the existing building via two bridges, and creates a viewing platform from which to experience the robust masonry walls. Its edges are defined by bosques of trees and a large-scale water feature that runs parallel to Argyle Avenue.
Overall, the Canadian Museum of Nature is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in natural history and science, with something for visitors of all ages to enjoy.