Ottawa museums are so famous that people travel far to see them because the city is home to many. So, let’s talk about the 9 best Ottawa Museums to explore!
The city of Ottawa serves as the nation’s capital in Canada. In 2021, the population of Ottawa City was determined to be 1,017,449, while the metropolitan region’s population was 1,488,307. Therefore, Ottawa is now the fourth-largest metropolitan area and city in Canada.
The city is home to several important government buildings, including the Prime Minister’s Office, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Viceroy’s Residence, and the Canadian Parliament. The city is also home to many embassies from different countries, key government buildings, organizations, institutions, and museums.
You cannot miss out on seeing some of the best museums in Ottawa mentioned below.
1) Best Ottawa Museums: 9 Museums to Not Miss on Visiting Ottawa
1.1) The National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is considered the most important art museum in Canada. It is the largest art museum in Ottawa, the capital of Ontario.
The museum has a total floor space of 46,621 square metres, of which only 12,400 square metres are used to display artwork.
The Second Supreme Court of Canada was the organization’s first set up in 1880. The Victoria Memorial Museum became the new home of the institution in 1911.
The Government of Canada enacted the National Gallery Act in 1913 to legally establish the structure as a national art museum. The museum was relocated to the Lorne building in 1960.
The National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta have collaborated on a press release to announce that they will work together for the next three years. On this agreement, pieces from the National Gallery collection could be displayed at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
The National Museums of Canada and another institution collaborated on a “satellite programme” for the first time. In the years that followed, other Canadian art galleries began engaging in similar activities.
It is one of North America’s largest art museums, with one of the most display spaces available. Its artworks include contemporary art.
1.2) The Canada Aviation and Space Museum
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is Canada’s aviation history museum. It is at Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Airport.
The Aviation and Space Museum has many civilian and military aircraft. These planes depict Canadian aviation from pre-World War II to the present. The 1920s–1940s bush planes are fascinating. Canadian military planes from early wars like the First war, Second war, nuclear war, and Cold War are being displayed. The museum’s most famous exhibit is the late-1950s Avro Arrow interceptor.
This vast museum has the most extensive aviation collection and will help you in space exploration. The museum houses the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Canadarm, a Canadian robotic arm that premiered on May 2, 2013.
1.3) The Canadian Museum of History
The Canadian Museum of History specializes in anthropology, Canadian history, cultural studies, Ottawa history (Canada’s capital), and ethnology. It is located in Gatineau, the province of Quebec, Canada.
The museum’s purpose is to educate visitors about Canadian history while providing financial assistance to historians working in related fields. The museum is located in a structure designed by Douglas Cardinal and measures 75,000 square metres in total area.
The Geological Survey of Canada created a museum in 1856; it grew to include an anthropological branch after building the museum in 1910. The building was given its current title, the National Museum of Canada, in 1927. This location marks the birthplace of the museum.
In 1968, the Canadian Museum of History combined its anthropology and human history departments, which resulted in the establishment of the Museum of Man. In 1989, the museum moved to its current home in Gatineau from its previous location.
The next year after its rebranding, it became known as the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In 2013, the museum was rebranded as the Canadian Museum of History, and its mission statement was altered to include a greater emphasis on Canadian heritage and history.
Even though the Victoria Memorial hall, which housed the new museum, was finished in 1910, it did not welcome visitors until the following year in 1911.
1.4) Canadian War Museum
Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum celebrates Canada’s military history. The museum honours veterans and teaches about their history. The museum is south of the Ottawa River in LeBreton Flats at 440,000 square metres.
The Canadian War Exhibition opened in 1942. However, some of its items came from the 1880–1896 military museum. The National Museums of Canada Corporation took over the Canada War Museum in 1967.
The military museum moved to the old Public Archives of Canada building that year. In 1990, the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation took over museum management. In the mid-1990s, LeBreton Flats was built to extend the museum. Canadian War Museum opened in 2005. Griffiths Rankin Cook and Moriyama & Teshima architects designed it.
1.5) Canadian Museum of Science and Technology
Ottawa hosts the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology. The museum promotes the nation’s scientific and technological heritage and occupies 144,860 square feet. Crown-owned Ingenium runs the museum with two more Canadian national museums.
The closed Museum of Canada housed the museum. In 1967, the branch was restructured and became the Museum of Science and Technology in 1968. It was renamed in 2000. The building’s original structure was dismantled and replaced during the 2014–2017 renovations.
The museum has around 60,000 items in 20,000 lots for exhibitions. The museum organizes temporary and travelling exhibits.
1.6) Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum
The Museum of Agriculture of Canada is located in Ottawa, Ontario. It includes activities and exhibits about the science of farming and the history of farming in Canada. Many buildings at the Central Experimental house, the museum, and a “functioning farm.”
The museum also creates travelling exhibits for other museums throughout the country and helps in food production.
The federal government established the Agriculture Museum in October 1983, but its collection dates back to 1920 when it was housed in the Central Experimental Farm. The museum developed from a dairy barn to encompass numerous Central Experimental structures.
In May 2000, the museum was renamed the Canada Agriculture Museum.
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum hosts discussions and exhibitions about the history of agriculture in Canada, the benefits of farming and the relationship between agriculture and science.
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, located in what is now known as the “functioning farm” at the Central Experimental Farm, has been there since the present day. There are 150 farm animals on the demonstration farm, including 50 dairy cows, horses, beef cattle, piglets, goats, chickens, and sheep.
The museum houses both agricultural history exhibitions and a collection of old tractors. The museum is linked to the Canadian Museums Association, the Canadian Heritage Information Network, and the Virtual Institution of Canada.
1.7) Canadian Museum of Nature
Earth and biological sciences comprise the museum’s Research Services. The Canadian Museum of nature has two multidisciplinary centres. The Beaty Centre for Species Discovery and the Arctic Knowledge and Exploration.
Since the 1980s, museum experts have studied Arctic flora, particularly alkali grass. The museum participated in several notable research projects like the 1986–1991 China-Canada Dinosaur Project, which found dinosaur fossils in the Foremost Formation.
The natural history branch of the museum expanded to include anthropology and human history. It was renamed the National Museum of Canada in 1927. The national museum’s departments became separate national institutions.
The museum’s natural history branch established the National Museum of Natural Sciences in 1968. In 1990, the museum became an independent royal enterprise and changed its name.
1.8) Bytown Museum
You’ll find the Bytown Museum below the Parliament Hills in the Colonel By Valley on the Ottawa River. The Commissariat Building, considered to be Ottawa’s oldest existing stone structure, now contains the museum. It relates the history of how Bytown was established, evolved and developed into the city of Ottawa we are familiar with today.
It was the year 1917 that saw the Bytown Museum’s founding by the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa (WCHSO). Its first location was in the historic City Registry Office at 70 Nicholas. This building was opposite the Carleton County Gaol at the time.
In 1951, the museum was relocated to its current position. It has remained in the Commissariat since, except for a brief period between 1982 and 1985, during which the facility owner, Parks Canada, carried out some necessary repairs.
1.9) Bank of Canada Museum
The Bank of Canada Museum opened its doors in 1980 in Ottawa on the ground floor of the building home to the Bank of Canada. At the time, the museum was known as Canada’s Currency Museum and was later named the Bank of Canada Museum. The general public referred to it as Canada’s International Currency Museum until July 2017, when the name was officially retired.
I hope you found the post helpful and that, after reading it, you feel inspired to go to one of the Ottawa museums. Please tell us in the comments which one you want to visit the most.
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