Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

May 29, 2013 10:00 ET

Edward Burtynsky: Oil

Stunning, bold photo exhibition opens at the Canadian Museum of Nature

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 29, 2013) - Edward Burtynsky: Oil, a unique exhibition of 56 large-scale captivating images by internationally renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, will be presented by Sun Life Financial at the Canadian Museum of Nature from May 31 to September 2, 2013. This impressive show, which reveals how oil has profoundly shaped the modern world, is organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The international tour is made possible with the support of Scotiabank.

"Edward Burtynsky: Oil examines one of the most important subjects of our time," says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. "We are excited to present this visually arresting and thought-provoking show by one of the most respected photographers in the world."

"Sun Life is proud to support Canadian artists," says Mary De Paoli, EVP, Public & Corporate Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. "Celebrating Canadian arts and culture is an important part of our lives. At the same time, our commitment to the environment factors into our daily business decisions and we're pleased to sponsor this powerful and eye opening exhibition."

From 1997 through 2009, Burtynsky travelled internationally to chronicle the production, distribution, and use of this critical fuel. The result is a survey of the "lifecycle" of oil, organized into three chapters on Extraction and Refinement, Transportation and Motor Culture, and The End of Oil. We see aerial views of oil fields, landscapes altered by extraction, and the architecture of massive refineries. Burtynsky's urban images show ribboning highway interchanges in major cities, suburban development, and industrial parks. Society's fascination with motor culture is evident in pictures of race tracks, motorcycles, sprawling parking lots, and a trucker's jamboree.

At the end, the visitor is left to wonder what this all means and where our reliance upon oil will take us. Burtynsky offers vistas of junked vehicles, scrapped auto parts, tire heaps, and oil drums. His series of photos depicting shipbreaking operations in Bangladesh are no less beautiful than they are unsettling. And images of recycling efforts in that country show workers in dire, toxic-looking conditions.

Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in Burtynsky's work. "Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times," says the artist.

An additional feature of the exhibition is a lounge area where visitors can relax and view a 13-minute video of Burtynsky explaining some of the images in the show.

A special exhibition surcharge of $4, for ages 12 and older, will apply for Edward Burtynsky: Oil, in addition to the regular admission fee. (Note: general admission is free on Thursday evenings from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM).

Free screenings of the award-winning documentary, Manufactured Landscapes, will occur every Thursday and Friday evening from May 31 to August 30 at 6:00 PM. The movie follows Burtynsky through China, where he shot the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street in Ottawa. Follow the Museum on Twitter (@MuseumofNature) and "like" the Museum on Facebook. For general information about the Museum, including hours and activities, visit

About the Canadian Museum of Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future through scientific research, a 10.5 million specimen collection, education programmes, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site. A founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, the museum is working with partners to expand its national service and presence.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2012, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $533 billion. For more information please visit

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Laura Sutin
    Marketing and Media Relations
    Canadian Museum of Nature
    613-566-4793 or (cell) 613-698-7142

    Dan Smythe
    Media Relations
    Canadian Museum of Nature
    (cell) 613-698-9253