Canadian Museum of Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum dedicated to natural history and sciences and holds the distinction of being the first national museum in Canada.

With over 14 million specimens in its collection, the Canadian Museum of Nature is one of the most intriguing and impressive museums found anywhere in Canada. It’s a great place to learn about the world we live in, from how it started through to the issues facing wildlife and ecosystems today.

Located in Canada’s capital of Ottawa at 240 McLeod Street, less than 2 km from Parliament Hill, the Canadian Museum of Nature is easily accessible along Highway 417. Paid parking is available on the premises. Or there are multiple OC Transpo bus routes with stops near the museum.

For up-to-date information and details on the Canadian Museum of Nature, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.

More about Canadian Museum of Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature is not just one of the biggest museums in Canada, it’s also the first dedicated national museum in Canada. It boasts almost 18,910 square metres (203,500 sq ft) of gallery space dedicated to the history and wonders of planet Earth.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is a wonderful attraction for families, as it brings nature to life with lots of hands-on exhibits. Visitors needing full accessibility can easily visit all galleries and facilities inside the museum.

There’s no arguing that Canada contains some of the most breathtaking natural scenery found anywhere in the world. And the Canadian Museum of Nature helps bring the 4 billion-year-old natural history to life in a mesmerizing and fascinating way. This is anything but your boring science class.

And this is immediately evident as you look up in the museum’s atrium. Above you, seemingly floating in space, is Earth as seen by astronauts. Gaia is a work of art by British artist Luke Jerram. It’s a marvel to see in person. And it immediately gets you thinking differently about the planet we inhabit.

The museum features permanent exhibits as well as special and temporary exhibits over four floors. Highlights of the Canadian Museum of Nature’s permanent collection include many galleries dedicated to different time periods and creatures.

In the Mammal Gallery, stunning dioramas of Canadian animals in their natural environments will captivate you. See bison, grizzly bears, cougars, polar bears, moose and more as you have never seen them — up close and personal. The Bird Gallery houses the largest collection of Canadian birds in the world, with more than 450 species on display.

In the Water Gallery, the most important element on the planet is explored in depth. It showcases how all the water on the planet is connected, the animals that call the oceans home, and increasing water-related issues including pollution and plastic waste. Walk around a mammoth blue whale skeleton or view real animals including turtles and jellyfish.

Dinosaurs roar back to life in the Fossil Gallery. Not only can you walk through a prehistoric swamp, and maybe stumble upon a dinosaur or two, but you can take in over 30 completed skeletons. There are even exciting dioramas with life sized models of dinosaurs showing how they may have lived. Kids and adults alike will be thrilled in the Fossil Gallery.

Roughly 40% of Canada is an Arctic climate. And in the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery, you can learn about this complex ecosystem, the animals that call the region home, as well as the threat of climate change in the area.

Rocks and minerals take centre stage in the Earth Gallery that shows how geological events and weather have shaped our planet over time. And children will have a blast at the Nature Live Gallery. Here live insects and bugs delight (or terrify) guests. Specimens on display include tarantulas, hissing cockroaches, beetles and stick insects.

And don’t forget to head outside to tour the Landscapes of Canada Gardens. Though the plants vary depending on the season, at least 60 species from various ecozones in Canada will always be on display. Not to mention, there’s a family of Woolly Mammoths and a giant iceberg. Informative plaques line the trails with benches to rest.

The museum has a Nature Café, where you can grab a bite to eat as well as a Nature Boutique for buying the perfect souvenir.

The stunningly ornate building that houses the Canadian Museum of Nature is the first to have been built specifically as a museum. Officially known as the Victoria Memorial Museum Building, the building was open to the public in 1912. Designed by architect David Ewart, the building looks more like a glorious castle rather than a museum. Using a mix of Tudor, Gothic and Beaux-Arts elements, the result is a sumptuous building that guests fully appreciate during their visit. And it’s the first building in Canada to use Canadian animals and plants as architectural design features. You can find them carved into the exterior of the building, adornments in the interior and in the windows.

In 2004, the building underwent a restoration project that was completed in 2010. Not only did the project restore the incredible original building, but it added the now iconic Lantern Tower to the front of the museum. It replicates the original stone tower that had to be removed from the building in 1915. The glass tower and its beautiful butterfly staircase help to connect the present with the past. The Canadian Museum of Nature is now a National Historic Site.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

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