Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

October 16, 2006 10:00 ET

Canadian Museum of Nature: Opening of New Galleries Highlights 150th Anniversary for Canadian Museum of Nature

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 16, 2006) - The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada's national museum of natural history, has reached a major milestone in its comprehensive five-year Renewal project! On October 20, 2006, an entirely renovated West Wing will reopen with new galleries showcasing dinosaurs, sea monsters, mammals in their recreated habitats, and even Einstein!

"It's an exciting time for the Canadian Museum of Nature, says Joanne DiCosimo, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. "We are mid-way through the renovations, and this is the first chance for the public to see what has been going on behind the cranes and the hoarding these past two years and to share in the excitement."

Opening with a flourish on the first floor is the signature attraction, the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery. This unique exhibition presents a 50-million-year look at the dramatic events that led to the extinction of dinosaurs and rise of mammals. Generous support for the gallery was provided by Talisman Energy Inc. through the Natural Partnerships fundraising Campaign.

"Talisman's $2 million contribution is the largest gift that the Museum has ever received," says DiCosimo. "Their support was critical in the development of this spectacular gallery which presents the impacts of past environmental changes on the evolution of life."

More than 300 specimens are showcased, including two amazing life-sized dioramas (recreated 3D scenes) showing creatures made by two of the world's top model-makers. An unforgettable Extinction Theatre complete with special effects offers a chilling sense of the catastrophic asteroid collision that sealed the dinosaurs' fate 65 millions years ago.

Immediately upon entering the new Mammal Gallery on the second floor, visitors walk through an immersive arctic scene where a polar bear waits on sea ice to catch a seal. Fifteen completely restored heritage dioramas, eight of them one-of-a-kind creations by celebrated Canadian wildlife artist Clarence Tillenius, take visitors on a journey to some of the most beautiful, unspoiled wildlife habitats in Canada. (Note: for the first few months after the opening, conservators will be continuing restoration work on some of the dioramas).

Einstein, a remarkable exhibition produced by the American Natural History Museum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles is on view in the new third floor special exhibition space until January 14, 2007. This internationally travelling show - in Canada for the first time - reveals the personal life, politics and science of this iconic 20th century genius, through his manuscripts, personal effects and letters.

On the fourth floor, a dynamic learning space, called the Discovery Zone, will accommodate groups for public lectures as well as up to 60 students at a time for curriculum-based school programmes. The weekends and summer months will offer a variety of special presentations for the public, including captivating CineMuse high-definition nature movies.

Work on the Museum of Nature's Victoria Memorial Museum Building (VMMB) - Canada's first national museum building - began in 2004 and will continue until 2009-10. The Museum of Nature dates to 1856 when the Geological Survey of Canada, received a mandate from Parliament to publicly display its growing natural science collections. The resulting museum, first in Montreal and then in Ottawa, eventually evolved into the Canadian Museum of Nature based at the Victoria Memorial Museum Building.

"This grand reopening of our magnificent west side galleries is a fitting celebration of 150 years of collecting, researching and exhibiting Canada's remarkable natural heritage," says DiCosimo.

The Natural Partnerships fundraising Campaign supports the development of content for the galleries, national educational programmes and associated activities on nature-related themes. To date, the Campaign has raised about 70% of its $10 million goal.

The renovations are transforming the Victoria Memorial Museum Building into a contemporary science museum with new infrastructure, improved environmental/conservation controls and better visitor amenities. The Museum also has a new South Wing that greatly improves its capacity for "back-of-house" activities, such as shipping and receiving, live animal care, exhibition workshops, and mechanical and electrical maintenance.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is a Crown corporation and Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. It promotes awareness of Canada's natural heritage through permanent and travelling exhibitions, public education programmes, active scientific research, a dynamic Web site, and the maintenance of a 10-million-specimen collection. A founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, the Museum is working with partners to enhance its national role and to develop national programmes and activities on themes of environmental change over time.

More details about the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery, the Mammal Gallery, Einstein and the ongoing renovations are available at

Contact Information

  • Canadian Museum of Nature
    Dan Smythe
    Senior Media Relations Officer
    Canadian Museum of Nature
    Laura Sutin
    Media Relations/Communications Officer