Mission and Mandate
Knowing more about nature gives us the tools to make better decisions about resources. It provides the basis for new technologies and developments, and promotes a better understanding of how we affect, and are affected by, the natural world.
The Canadian Museum of Nature is home to one of the world’s largest and finest natural history collections. Comprised of 24 major science collections of more than 10 million specimens, the museum’s holdings cover four billion years of Earth history.
In addition to preserving these precious specimens for posterity, the collection is a vital resource for scientists, researchers and museums in Canada and around the world. For instance, by examining past patterns of species distribution, climate change and extinction, palaeobiology research helps scientists understand natural events that occur during environmental changes and assists in predicting future consequences.
At the museum, we use the past to prepare for the future. Our specimens provide the backbone for our many special exhibitions and signature galleries, and they greatly enhance our educational programmes, designed for adults, teens and children, about the natural world.
The Canadian Museum of Nature has its origins in the Geological Survey of Canada, which was formed in 1842. Nearly 150 years later, on July 1, 1990, the museum became a Crown Corporation by an Act of Parliament.
The Museums Act was a significant event in the history of the museum. With Crown Corporation status came a new name, a new "arms-length" status and an expanded mandate.
"The purpose of the Canadian Museum of Nature is to increase throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge of and appreciation and respect for the natural world by establishing, maintaining and developing for research and posterity a collection of natural history objects, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, and by demonstrating the natural world, the knowledge derived from it and the understanding it represents."
- from the Museums Act, Chapter M-13.4 (1990, c. 3)
Putting Our Mandate to Work
The Canadian Museum of Nature is mandated to help shape and deepen the knowledge and attitudes of Canadians towards nature. Not an easy task, but the museum's main branches of Research Services, Collection Services, Exhibitions Services and Community Services have been strengthened to accomplish these important goals.
The museum continues to conserve and maintain its natural history collections, for which it has developed considerable expertise in the areas of collection conservation and collection management. In the research area, activities are focused on major areas of interest and relevance to society. Our key efforts are directed towards the discovery of new knowledge, and the gathering and analysis of scientific information to increase our understanding of natural diversity.
The wealth of knowledge gained through our natural history collections and leading-edge research forms the core of the museum's exciting exhibitions and educational initiatives. As a result, our public programmes engage Canadians in guided dialogues about nature and challenge fixed opinions and views. In all activities, we aim to interpret natural history and science themes in an exciting and interactive way. We seek to increase nature literacy and science literacy among Canadians of all ages.