Places to Visit

A Guide to Nature Museum Ottawa

The Canadian museum of nature is a Natural historical museum in the capital city of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa.

This castle-like structure was built between 1905 and 1911. It is located on Mcleod street in Ottawa. It was constructed by architect David Ewart, Chief Architect of the Department of Public Works.

It has almost 18000 square meters of space dedicated to the wonderful and intricate collections collected over the years. This Nature Museum Ottawa is one of the top attractions of Ottawa.

The Nature Museum Ottawa offers an interactive and knowledgeable experience for visitors of all ages, from seven permanent galleries to several temporary exhibitions ranging from real butterflies to Inuit paintings.

This museum also has an in-house 3D theatre that displays informative videos on themes such as volcanoes and flying dinosaurs.

This Nature Museum Ottawa evolved from a museum founded by the Geological Survey of Canada in 1856.

The Nature Canadian museum showcases wonderful scenic natural beauty. There are many galleries which are dedicated to different eras and cultures.

The official name of this Canadian museum is called the Victoria Memorial Museum Building. It is associated with the Canadian Museums Association, the Canadian Heritage Information Network, and the Virtual Museum of Canada.


Image by Observations? Science needs your data from Pixabay

Ewart had traveled to Britain to study the architecture of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle and combined their designs into this castle.

The architectural quality, grandeur, and position of the five buildings all contributed significantly to Ottawa’s position as a capital city. Local contractor George Goodwin made the Victoria Memorial Museum according to Ewart’s ideas.

The materials that have been used to build this Gothic-style structure were steel frames, stone exterior cladding, sandstone, and reinforced concrete.

The Geological Survey of Canada, founded in 1842, inspired the creation of the Canadian Museum of Nature.

In 1856, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada enacted an act allowing the Geological Survey of Canada to create a museum to display things discovered based on its geological and archaeological field trips.

This Canadian museum was formally expanded in 1877 to study the modern fauna and flora, as well as human history, languages, and traditions.

Originally a natural history museum, the institution gradually grew to include an anthropology and human history section, and in 1927 it was renamed the National Museum of Canada.

This Canadian museum was founded in Montreal and then moved to downtown Ottawa in 1881. The Nature Museum Ottawa moved to the Victoria Memorial Museum Building in 1911.

The national museum’s sections were eventually divided into independent national institutions, with the natural history department establishing the National Museum of Natural Sciences in 1968.

Barry Padolsky has over 50 years of expertise as an architect, urban planner, and historical consultant in Ottawa.

He has overseen almost 200 large architectural, urban design, and historical conservation projects as the principal of his business, Barry Padolsky Associates Inc. Architects, as well as countless smaller projects around the National Capital Region.

Governing Body

A committee is formed consisting of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and nine trustees governing the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa.

The Board is responsible for the overall administration of the Corporation and is expected to provide strategic counseling to management as well as oversee the Corporation’s activities.

It is obligated to act in the best interests of the Corporation while exercising caution and due diligence. The Board is also in charge of evaluating the Chief Executive Officer’s performance every year.

The Chairperson is responsible for the proper conduct of board meetings so that the Corporation effectively carries out its purpose and objectives, ensuring value for taxpayer financing, remains viable and holds management accountable for its performance.

Image by Denis Doukhan from Pixabay


The Canadian Museum of Nature’s collections is considered to be an elementary purpose as it is meant to have interest and utmost admiration for the natural world.

The four primary collections of this Nature Museum are botany, zoology, mineralogy, and paleontology.

The museum’s collection includes algae, amphibians, birds, bryophytes, fishes, gemstones, invertebrates, dinosaur skeletons, blue whale skeletons, lichens, mammals, minerals, mosses, reptiles, rocks, insects, vascular plants, and vertebrate fossils.

The museum also contains the first ever dinosaur skull found in India called the Albertosauras. In addition to these items, the museum’s collection contains natural history art and video.

Audio recordings of animal behaviors and animal models are commonly used in the museum’s presentations.

Natural Heritage Centre

The Natural Heritage Centre has a library and an archive. The natural history library has around 35,000 volumes, 2,000 periodic titles, museum publications, and microfilms.

The museum’s archives are divided into three sections: archival materials about the museum; a photograph collection of over 275,000 slides, photographs, negatives, and plates; and an art collection of 1,800 pieces mostly centered on nature.

The revitalization project shows the Museum’s collections and its research activities while improving its public outreach.

The original interior had a somewhat inflexible and opaque layout, little vertical circulation, and a generally subpar structure.

The task of realizing a stronger identity for the CMN stretched beyond the interior to the exterior and location.

The museum’s administrative offices, research laboratories, and collection storage are all housed on the Natural Heritage Campus.

The Nature Museum Ottawa opened its 76-hectare complex in Gatineau, Quebec, in 1997. The structure itself is 20,478 square meters and includes workstations as well as laboratory areas.

The structure is divided into three environmentally controlled “pods” that house 42 independent collecting rooms and nine documentation rooms.

The originality of the designs during the renovation was done by the joint efforts of Gagnon joint venture architects, KPMB architects, and Barry Padolsky Associates Inc.

Modern glass architecture contrasts with the original 1912 Beaux Arts-style architecture, and this structure demonstrates that old and new architecture can coexist to create a stunning outcome.

The structure is Canada’s oldest national museum, which has been brought into the twenty-first century with the addition of the “lantern,” a contemporary glass tower. This is a room that lets in a lot of natural light.

Image by M. Maggs from Pixabay

How to Reach the Museum?

The Nature Museum Ottawa is easily accessible through the Queensway or downtown Ottawa (also known as the Trans-Canada Highway or Highway 417).

If you are coming from the highway, use the Metcalfe exit. Take Metcalfe Street from downtown Ottawa to the museum. Many transport buses stop within a few blocks of the museum.

What will you Find There?

There are some world-class galleries permanent galleries including the Fossil Gallery, the Water Gallery, the Earth Gallery, the Mammal Gallery, the Bird Gallery, Goose Arctic Gallery, Nature Live, and Stone Wall Gallery. You will also find special exhibitions, 3D movies, Birthday Parties, and facility rentals.

1. Mammal Gallery

The Mammal Gallery will fascinate you with stunning dioramas of Canadian animals in their natural habitats.

You will see bison, grizzly bears, cougars, polar bears, moose, and other species like you have never seen before – up close and personal.

2. Water Gallery

This Gallery delves deeply into the world’s most crucial element. It portrays the interconnection of water on the planet, the creatures that dwell in the oceans, and emerging water-related concerns such as pollution and plastic waste.

You may walk around a giant blue whale skeleton or witness real animals like turtles, jellyfish, etc.

3. Fossil Gallery

Dinosaurs are brought back to life at the Fossil Gallery. You can explore over 30 complete skeletons. In addition to that, you will explore an old wetland and spot dinosaurs. 

There are also fascinating dioramas that depict how life-sized dinosaur reproductions might have existed in the past. Both adults and children will enjoy the Fossil Gallery.

4. Earth Gallery

The Earth Gallery is a permanent display of minerals, rocks, and other geological processes. 

There are many interactive games that visitors of all age groups will enjoy like watching a mineral grow, creating a new rock, studying a rocky cycle diorama, etc.

5. Bird Gallery

There have been 450 species discovery of birds. Not only does the exhibit look modern but it also has a traditional aspect to it.

The gallery is painted in white so that it acts as a perfect backdrop for the magnificent birds. It is a complete example of sustainability and durability.

6. Pacific Discovery Tank

You will find creatures that live in seawater along rocky shorelines and learn how well they adapt to these thriving conditions.

7. Bugs Alive

In this bugs gallery, you will find a display of Hercules beetles, tarantulas, Florida Katydids, Malaysian jungle nymphs, scorpions, stick insects, etc.

Leafcutter ants are the star attractions of this exhibit. They create their nests where they provide room for a million ants. In this gallery, visitors will learn about the importance of insects and their characteristics.

8. Canada Goose Arctic Gallery

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The Canada Goose Arctic Experience is the museum’s newest permanent exhibition, featuring more than 200 specimens and artifacts from the Canadian Arctic on display.

The exhibition is intended to educate museum visitors, including Canadians and tourists from other nations, about the reality of life in northern Canada, including the changing terrain, culture, and numerous animals.

Although the exhibition’s focus is firmly on the Canadian Arctic, there are some foreign works as well, such as “Kautokeino, a Sami hamlet in Norway,” which is highlighted in the Arctic Communities Interactive.

The Canada Goose Arctic Experience is the museum’s newest permanent exhibition, featuring over 200 different species and artifacts from the Canadian Arctic on display.

The Arctic Experience gallery opened in June 2017, coinciding with Canada’s 150th-anniversary festivities.

The Arctic Experience exhibit is 8,000 square feet in size and is separated into four thematic zones that include climate, ecosystems, geography, and sustainability, as well as a Beyond Ice display.

The Beyond Ice project, created in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada, gives visitors a sensory experience of the Arctic area. 

The event, which will take place at the Canadian Museum of Nature, will include several activities and exhibitions depicting the dynamic Arctic life and culture.

A scavenger hunt, story-telling, igloo-building, musical and art performances, and a picture show highlighting Inuit rural cuisine in metropolitan settings are among the activities planned.

There will also be two days of programming for elementary and high school kids, including an Arctic Youth Action Day and inspirational speakers.

Things to Know Before you go to Nature Museum Ottawa

  1. To attend special exhibitions or movies in the 3D theatre, guests must purchase tickets beforehand or at the site.

  2. The entire museum is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

  3. You can use all modes of transportation which are also free to borrow.
  4. There is free Wi-Fi and a charging station in the museum.

  5. You can carry your snacks to the museum. There is also a cafe inside the museum where you can eat.

  6. You can take self-guided tours 

The Bottom Line

Although, David Ewart took inspiration from Europe, his ideas of building this magnanimous structure sprouted from Canada.

This Nature Museum Ottawa was one of the first buildings to have assimilated into the different species of animals and plants of Canada.

You will find a magnificent range of fossils, the blue whale and dinosaur skeletons, mammals, reptiles, insects, marine creatures, tarantulas, birds, rocks, vascular plants, etc. You can purchase a ticket for $27 for an adult whereas it is $20 for a child.

This Nature Museum Ottawa offers its visitors to come and experience an exhibit, where they can see, click photos, and touch tiny pool-like creatures.

The ocean and the living creatures in it are getting affected by microplastics and different forms of waste that are floating in and around water.

You need to save and respect living creatures. Through the exhibits of this Canadian museum, we can connect with the floating creatures and learn about the marine lifestyle.

You can take a trip to Ottawa and experience the ethereal beauty of this Canadian museum. There are some nearby attractions that you cannot miss and which will keep you entertained.

The Nature Museum Ottawa was officially designated as a National Historic Site of Canada because of its extraordinary architecture.

Nature Museum Ottawa is undertaking a tremendous project where they are digitalizing 14 million of its collections that document geographic and temporal biodiversity.




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