One place was missing from our August museum frenzy: the Canadian Museum of Nature. I drive by the massive stone structure several times a week, but this is not a museum I know well—it was under major renovation from 2004 to 2010 and Feng and I visited it just once, when only parts of it was open to public.
We opted out of the “Creatures of Light” temporary exhibition—an additional $8 per person—and started by a 50-million-year journey, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. One room showed the specimens and skeletons, and one recreated a “life-like” dino battle. We also enjoy a short movie in the sensory Extinction Theatre (Mark said “wow!” when the meteorite hit the earth).
We then moved on to the really cool animalium, with its collection of insects, arachnids and slugs. The giant cockroaches and the tarantula were pretty neat: I had never seen a spider that big and you are literally nose-to-nose with the bugs. This is the only part of the museum with live animals so we stayed for quite a while.
The bird gallery came with a mini “bird hospital” where kids could play the vet on stuffed birdies and Mark was overjoyed to see birds that, for once, weren’t flying away.
I was expecting the earth gallery to be as dry as the subject can be—I have bad memories of studying rocks and minerals in junior high. Geology is a field that a few find fascinating, but many find extremely boring. Well, the museum did a good job of making things fun through interactive activities and simulations. Of course, you can check out hundreds of specimens, but you can also create your very own earthquake on a computer, explore a cave and make a volcano erupt. Which I did, many times, just because it’s fun.
The skeleton of a blue whale greeted us at the entrance of the blue water gallery, and Mark spent a while in the Arctic research vessel play area. We finished the visit with the mammal gallery and the diorama scenes of real places. Too bad they don’t have live animals for that one!
The building itself is lovely, with its glass stained window and mozaic. On one hand, I found the exhibition didn’t “flow” very well because you had to go up and down the stairs to go from one gallery to another, unlike the Canadian Museum of History where you stay on the same level. But I must admit the ceiling and the lantern structure are amazing—the view from the glass tower is unique.
You can see all the Ottawa – Summer pictures on Flickr.