International Museum Day: May 18

by Sasha

Did you know that tomorrow is International Museum Day? We are lucky to so have many world-class museums right here in Ottawa, not to mention a wide range of community museums scattered throughout the region. Why not visit one? Admission to the museums of Nature and Science and Technology will be free, and there will be special activities at the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum.

Or if the 18th doesn't work for you, here are some other free ways into Ottawa area museums:

The Ottawa Public Library lends passes for the Museums of Civilization, Science and Technology, Nature, and the National Gallery. The passes cover a family of 4-5 (the OPL catalogue has the specifics for each pass). They tend to be hot commodities, but at any given time there tend to be a half dozen or so checked-in at various branches throughout the city. So why not play museum roulette: pick a pass that’s available at a branch near you, and off you go! Just search for ‘Museum Pass’ in the online catalogue.

Admission to the Museum of Civilization (including the Children’s Museum) and the Canadian War Museum, is free every Thursday from 4 until 8pm. It is also free on Canada Day (July 1) and Remembrance Day (November 11).

The Museum of Nature is also free on Thursday afternoons (from 5 to 8 pm), as well as on Earth Day (April 22), and Canada Day (July 1).

The Museum of Science and Technology doesn’t have a weekly freebie, but they are free on Canada Day (July 1).

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Agriculture Museum are free from 4 to 5pm. Every day. How cool is that? And the Agriculture Museum is also free on Canada Day.

The National Gallery (including the Museum of Contemporary Photography) is free on Thursdays after 5, and for children under 12 all the time.

What is your favourite Ottawa-area museum?

Sasha is mom to 2-year-old Miss Bea, and 4 month old Baby Em.  Her ramblings can also be found on her blog, The Rambling Stroller.

The National Gallery - For Moms

by Sasha

The National Gallery isn't the first place most people think of when it comes to activities for kids. But kids can appreciate art too. I'm thinking about the younger set. The much younger set. I don't know how much a baby gets out of the National Gallery, but I can tell you that it can be a nice place for mom.

Last week I visited the gallery with a couple of other moms, and our kids (aged 6 weeks, 6 months, and newly-walking 9 months). I'm not an art afficionado, but it was a nice place to walk around and just take in the ambiance. Basically a mall, with culture-cred.

I am actually sitting in the middle of the gallery right now, in an indoor garden space reminiscent of a medieval cloister. Not bad for midwinter in Ottawa.

Whenever baby gets fidgety from sitting for too long, we move on. In fact, I've moved twice so far in this paragraph :).

In practical terms, the gallery is a good place for a new mom. It not only provides a break from "four walls and a baby", there are change tables in the washroom, it is nice and quiet and has comfortable chairs to nurse (I recommend the arm chairs in the entrance to the Canadian Gallery). It also has underground parking, a real perk during an Ottawa winter.

And if, like me, you know nothing about art, I'd encourage you to take in one of the Docent's Choice talks, a ten-minute talk about a single piece of art.  My primary goals in today's trip were to get out of the house and to get this post written, but much to my surprise I wound up falling in love with a painting - so much so that I bought a gallery membership (I sure wish I'd known that before paying admission).

The other big concern for a mom with a new baby is the potential disruption if baby gets fussed.  Thankfully, I didn't have that issue today - when baby got fussy all I needed to do was keep moving.  The docent's talk was a particular worry for me.  But not only was baby well behaved, I got the distinct impression that, had it been any different, I would have gotten nothing but sympathy.

Have you been to the National Gallery with your kids? Where do you like to go to get out of the house with baby?

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