The Museum of Nature: 2010 recap and look ahead to 2011

Night shot of the museum’s new glass tower.

Photo credit: The Museum of Nature


Alex Hosselet likes to keep it real, especially in buildings that contain dinosaurs. Alex has been to just about every museum in Ottawa, but has a special place in his heart for the Museum of Nature.

I’ve been going to the Museum of Nature for as long as I can remember. This year, after along restoration and renovation project, the museum re-opened: and what an opening! I went to the museum’s annual public meeting to get the score about what happened in 2010 and what’s happening in 2011.

Opening comments from Florence Minz, the chair of the museum’s board of trustees, addressed the museum’s ongoing research projects, which work towards a national mandate to preserve Canada’s natural history. As well, the museum will have a new, official president and CEO in 2011. After, the interim president and CEO, Maureen Dougan, took the podium.

The Museum of Nature is in the first year of a five year strategic plan that focuses on environmental, public and financial responsibility. The grand re-opening in May revealed many new aspects of the museum, including the Queen’s Lantern (unveiled by HRH Queen Elizabeth, herself), the cafe and other amenities, the RBC Blue Water Gallery (which includes a full blue whale skeleton), and the Vale Earth Gallery (which has the biggest collection of gems and minerals I’ve ever seen).

I also got the scoop on all of the upcoming exhibits and attractions!

The current exhibits Frogs – A Chorus of Colours and Moths at Large will be closing on January 9. If you haven’t seen them yet, you really should – they are some of the most amazing selections of animals I’ve ever seen! For the holiday season, the museum has Let It Snow, highlighting the ways various animals adapt to the snow and cold. At the end of January, the museum will be hosting Ends of the Earth – an exhibit on the Arctic and Antarctic regions, as well as Arctic Kaleidoscopes – a gallery of arctic photography. In early June, be sure to come by to see Extreme Mammals – an exhibit which promises to include the most amazing mammals from around the globe. As well, the museum will be hosting (for the third year in a row) the Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year gallery, run by Canadian Geographic. The museum is also gearing up for a multitude of activities in April for Earth Day and Earth Month.

I had an opportunity to chat with Ms. Dougan after the meeting and ask her a few brief questions about the museum.

What was it like to host the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh this summer?

It was very exciting! Royal visits don’t happen often, so it was a very special occasion. The building which hosts the public collection, the Victoria Memorial Museum, is named for her grandmother, after all. We were thrilled to name the Queen’s Lantern after her, and have her present for the ceremony.

I caught the screening of Isabella Rossellini’s “Green Porno” at the opening weekend – it was hilarious and educational! What else is the new HD theatre being used for?

Well, we’re actually following that up with “Seduce Me”, also by Isabella Rossellini, in February just before Valentine’s Day. We’re also playing “The Sound of Music” throughout the holiday season. And throughout the year, we regularly screen various nature films.

You’ve got a really great social media presence. Can you tell me about that?

Thank you! Yes, social media is very important to us, and we want to keep up with the public. So we’ve been using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. We’ve received good feedback about it so far!

If you haven’t been the Museum of Nature since the reopening, you really need to check it out.  Do you have a favourite memory from the museum, or an opinion about the newly renovated version? Feel free to leave a comment or send us an email at!

Not sure about whether you want to check out the museum? Watch this:

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