Today I move into another of the museums I visited on Canada Day. The Canadian Museum of Nature is a few blocks south of Parliament Hill, occupying a building constructed in Gothic Revival and Scottish Baronial styles. Its origins date back to the 1840s with the establishment of the Geological Survey of Canada, and the building dates to the early 20th century, established as the Victoria Memorial Museum (which is still inscribed above the main entrance). It's been a National Historic Site since 1990. Aside from museum use, the building was home to our Parliament for several years after Centre Block was destroyed in the 1916 fire. A renovation was completed in 2010 that included the erection of a glass tower called the Queens' Lantern (in honour of both Victoria and Elizabeth), which replaced a tower that had stood here for the first ten years of its existence. Unstable soils beneath the tower had required the removal of much of that structure; the glass tower is a modern counterpart that is much lighter and yet doesn't detract from the older part of the building. This view looks out onto it from the top floor, which is where I usually start visits to this museum, working my way down through galleries. A large jellyfish installation hangs down from the ceiling.
The Arctic Gallery opened last year, and is on the top floor. The first thing one sees on entry are these slabs of ice, lit up with moving images. The ice is real- the meltwater is collected beneath and refrozen onto the surface at night.
The gallery was created in collaboration with Inuit peoples of the north, and the walls are colourfully decorated. Its theme shows the wildlife and the people of the Far North, stressing the fragile nature of a wildly diverse ecosystem in the face of climate change.
There is a wealth of biodiversity in the Far North, like birds and muskoxen.
Shifting colours in fur are part of the displays. Some animals change their look from winter to summer, as is the case with the Arctic Fox and the Arctic Hare.
This view takes in the beluga and narwhal suspended from the ceiling, and the caribou and ringed seal on the central platform.
The Arctic wasn't always cold. 20 million years ago there were temperate forests, and it was home to species such as puijila darwini, a relative to current day seals.
This formidable polar bear is at the heart of the gallery.
These birds caught my eye.
The human element of life in the north is also examined, particularly in terms of the Inuit, who have lived here for thousands of years and who have learned how to live off the resources of the land. Traditional styled clothing is displayed.
Leaving the gallery, I came across this display screen with a series of photographs, each rotating to be prominently displayed for thirty seconds or so. I caught them all together before the next one would take up the bulk of the screen.