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The Big 4-0

40 Years of Nature on Tour

Gems, birds, fossils, ice age mammals, moths, nature art…the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) has been putting a cornucopia of natural treasures “on the road” for four decades.

Since 1973, with the first national travelling exhibition, Canadian Nature Art, the CMN has produced and toured more than 60 diverse shows. From St. John’s to Vancouver, Iqaluit to Pointe Pelee, millions of Canadians in every province and territory have encountered these expertly created exhibitions about the natural world.

Some of the Museum’s star travelling exhibitions have included Passionate Vision, a collection of photographs by Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar, and Monarca—about the impressive monarch butterfly.

The Geee! in Genome was a multifaceted project that brought in Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as key partners (with then prime minister Jean Chrétien attending the exhibition launch). This exhibition on the fundamentals of genomics was seen by over one million people. Although the full-sized show has been decommissioned, “Genome” lives on in the form of two “suitcase” exhibits.

Travelling exhibitions have offered a fitting opportunity to raise awareness across the country about CMN scientific research. A notable example of this is Ice Age Mammals, which features research by two palaeontologists, Dr. Richard Harington and Dr. Natalia Rybczynski. Launched in 2005, this popular and enduring show is nowhere near ready to be “iced”.

Canada’s Waterscapes—about our diverse aquatic ecosystems—reveals the expertise of Museum biologists: Dr. Kathy Conlan (Arctic ocean bottom-dwelling creatures), Dr. Jean-Marc Gagnon (St. Lawrence River invertebrates), Dr. André Martel (Rideau River mussels), and Paul Hamilton (lake diatoms). Touring for over three years now, it’s really made a “splash” across the country.

For smaller venues that can’t accommodate the full-sized shows, compact exhibitions such as Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year or the information-packed kiosk on the Arctic called Sila: Clue in to Climate Change offer the natural solution.

Interestingly to note: While the CMN’s travelling exhibitions program officially dates back to 1973, mineral specimens were sent more than a century earlier to a famous event in history. Canadian minerals appeared at the Great Exhibition in London, England in 1851, earning much praise for both the splendid collection as well for the Museum’s founder, William Logan.

For more information about the Museum’s diverse and engaging travelling exhibitions, visit nature.ca/exhibition-rentals.