Friday, July 20, 2018

The Far North

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.


  1. What a fascinating exhibit! With real ice, no less. This is one I think I'd really enjoy.

  2. Beautiful !
    Have you taken some photos of this museum before ?
    It is so worth a second look.

    cheers, parsnip

    cheers, parsnip

  3. Beautiful. I would visit this museum, too. That reminds me that this is a similar but much smaller natural history museum here I should get to.

  4. It looks a really interesting museum to visit for both children and adults alike.

  5. ...the far north looks refreshing on this HOT day! 😀

  6. Beautiful images, I like that first photo with the hanging ice,

  7. I would love that Arctic gallery.

  8. I would love this museum, awesome exhibits and photos. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  9. @Kay: the ice is a nice, cold touch!

    @Parsnip: yes, I've often photographed it, both outside and inside.

    @Pat: this one is a good sized museum.

    @Rosemary: the kids particularly go crazy about the fossils.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Tom: very refreshing.

    @Marianne: I do too.

    @Marie: it's a good addition.

    @Eileen: thank you!

  10. Glad you told me what that jellyfish sculpture is. And I love the story and clothing of the Inuit. Thank you for educating me. :-)

  11. That arctic fox looks so cuddly. Of course I know it's not, it just looks cute.

  12. As someone who has lived in he Arctic, this display brings back some good memories. Some of the clothing was worn when I was there and some of it is from an earlier time. I still have my coat but not the footwear.

  13. This is the kind of museum the whole family would enjoy William.. I can just imagine youngsters thrilled at the sight of the polar bear ☺

  14. A very impressive nature museum beautifully captured. A place I would love to visit.

  15. Looks like a great exhibit, William. Even better in the heat of summer. :-)

  16. I love this museum. The first image, the hanging ice is pretty incredible. Nice photos William.

  17. Wonderful nature museum photos!

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  18. I'd like to visit this museum! You had a busy day on Canada Day!

  19. @DJan: I have another perspective of the jellyfish coming up.

    @Sharon: it does!

    @Red: I figured you'd have personal experiences!

    @Grace: definitely.

    @Denise: I enjoy visiting.

    @Revrunner: definitely welcome on a hot day!

    @Bill: thank you.

    @Carol: thanks!

    @RedPat: it was an exceedingly long day.

  20. The far north sure is a special region. Suppose the Inuits will be specially aware of any climate change. I need to look into their life and place of their population - in the north as well as all over - i am not informed.

  21. What a beautiful series of photos. You captured the site really well. Again, we should go... but.

  22. Looks an interesting museum, I've enjoyed my visit through your photographs.

    All the best Jan

  23. William, I think the Ontario Visitors Bureau should hire you! You're telling me of so many interesting place to go and this is definitely one!

  24. The ice is real! That very cool! Literally!

  25. I thought these are icicles, then I read the post ;)
    By the way have you ever travelled to northern parts of Canada?

  26. Some of the animals in display are familiar also here in Finland...

  27. @Julia: I'd love to see the Arctic.

    @Jennifer: you should make the effort to come in for a museum every once in awhile.

    @Jan: I love visiting this museum.

    @Jeanie: thank you!

    @Jennifer: indeed.

    @Beth: definitely.

    @Klara: the furthest north I've been in my country has been Edmonton in Alberta.

    @Italiafinlandia: that's not surprising.