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An old museum is new again

by Chantal As residents of our nation's capital we are all so lucky to have access to many wonderful national institutions.  The Canadian Museum of Nature is one of the finest in our region.  My family and I have always enjoyed this museum and, like many others, were very excited to see what kind of exhibits it would house once all the renovations (which seemed to take forever, but it was only 6 years) were completed.  My sister and I braved the museum on its grand opening weekend (although not on Saturday, we aren't that crazy).

The first place we headed was the RBC Blue Water Gallery.  We just had to see Tallulah the Blue Whale and we were not disappointed. 

Our two younger boys (both 5) loved the imaginative play coast guard ship and spent quite a bit of time with their lab coats on driving through the arctic. Next we headed the Special exhibits section to see the "Frogs: Chorus of Colour" exhibit.  In order to get to the frogs exhibit you have to walk through the "Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year" exhibit.  My sister and I were surprised at how much the kids enjoyed looking at the photos, many of which were taken by young Canadians.

The frogs exhibit was so cool!  All the different colours and sizes, they were mesmerizing.  Surprisingly my 5 year old was taken by a computer program that simulates dissecting a frog (I say he will be a doctor when he grows up, let me live my dream). These two special exhibits (along with Aqua which we didn't go to this visit) are open until September 6th 2010.  Be sure to get there before they close, September seems like a long way away, but it will pass by in a flash!

There is a new Cafe, the Nature Cafe on the first floor where you can get food.  It is a nice addition in case you don't bring your lunch.  On opening weekend the Nature Cafe was overrun with people so we headed outside to a special opening weekend BBQ. The terrace outside the Cafe is beautiful and next time we may just pack our own lunch to enjoy out there.

In the basement where the cafeteria used to be, there is an exhibit called Animalium. I was busy nursing D2 while we visited the Animalium so I will let Joanne tell you about it:

If you are looking for the old creepy crawly exhibit head to the Animalium and you will see all your old favourites - beetles, cockroaches and meal worms.  They are all there where the kids can get a good look at them - there is also a great seating area where you can take a break and look at interesting books on bugs.

With the entire museum open after 6 years of partial closure it was nice to enjoy all the space. Even with all the people who were inside the museum I found most exhibits easy to navigate. The busiest exhibit by far was the Fossil Gallery, but that could be a function of the fact that it is on the main floor and is the first exhibit most kids want to see. I had my stroller with me but I parked it in the coat check room and carried D2 in the sling. No need to wait for elevators and navigate a stroller through the crowded halls.

It is a very impressive renovation and the atrium is beautiful The only thing our kids missed from the "old" museum was the dinosaur has been removed from the main entrance. Other than that, the new museum was a hit from start to end!

The museum is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays: 9 to 6 and  Thursdays, Fridays: 9 to 8

Visit the Plan Your Visit page on their website for admission prices.

For some frugal fun the Museum has free admission every Thursday night from 5-8pm.

Chantal is a mom of 3 boys ages 8, 5 and 5 months. She usually blogs at TwoHandsFull but is currently taking a blogging break to enjoy time with her baby boy!

Joanne the proud mom of Amélie (8 years old) and Mathieu (5 years).  She is new at blogging and you can find her at Our Money Pit.