By Helene The Canadian Museum of Nature is largely defined by its impressive collection of prehistoric fossils, so with the 100th anniversary of the museum’s fossil gallery this year, it is a great time to visit. The museum celebrated the milestone at the recent launch of the 2013-2014 season. It has interspersed photos and short stories about the fossils on display, telling the story of how far they’ve come. The gallery easily impresses all ages; however, with primarily framed black & white images, this programming will mostly appeal to adults.
More intriguing for kids will be the live fossil preparation Saturdays from 1- 4pm only in November. The winner of last spring’s Dino Idol “Canadian Club” will be among the fossils to be prepared for study (right in the fossil gallery!). They have been sealed in large plaster field jackets since they were collected in Alberta about 100 years ago.
Other highlights this season include Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, looks at how ants live, work and play through photography.
Also, the return of a favourite - Frogs: A Chorus of Colours, 25 Sept 2013 through 11 May 2014, was a highlight of my family’s visits to the museum in 2010. Finding frogs from around the world camouflaged in their “natural habitat” is fun for all family members. Hint: bring a stroller or folding stool as many of the displays are out of a toddler’s sightline. A number of hands-on activities such as frog mini-golf complete the experience.
For adults and children alike:
Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, from 3 May – 9 November 2014, focuses on organisms (from the typical fireflies to fish and mushrooms) that light up or glow in the dark and promises to be awe-inspiring. On view for the first time in Canada, it is organized by the American Museum of Natural History Museum in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Nature and The Field Museum in Chicago.
For the culturally-minded:
Arctic Fest, 2nd Edition (April 2-6, 2014) and Arctic Voices (Nov 2014) First introduced last April, this festival aims to connecting Canadians young and old to Canada's northern heritage through fascinating stories. A collaboration with Science North.
For the science-buff:
X-rays of Arctic Fishes (Jan – June 2014) A small exhibit looking at the architecture of Arctic fishes.
For the explorer:
Passenger Pigeon – Extinct for a Century (June – December 2014) This once common bird in eastern North America became extinct with the world's last Passenger Pigeon dying in 1914.
For the visual:
Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year, 6th Edition (May –September 2014) Award-winning photos from Canadian Geographic’s 2013 national photo contest.
For the movie buff:
3D movies Penguins 3D and The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D round out any visit.
A surcharge applies for entry to the special exhibitions, Frogs and Creatures of Light, as well as 3D movies.