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  5. Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages: world-premiere exhibition to open at Canadian Museum of Nature

Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages: world-premiere exhibition to open at Canadian Museum of Nature

Ice and cold have long shaped our planet, as well as life on it. In fact, we are still living in an ice age…but the planet is changing.

This dramatic story of adaptation is presented in a new exhibition developed by the Canadian Museum of Nature—and it’s told with a cast of characters that includes woolly mammoths, American lions and Neanderthals.

Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages debuts October 2, 2020, and features engaging exhibits, more than 120 real specimens and artifacts, multimedia and some ''magical'' moments.

Journey across 80,000 years of Earth’s history—explore how ice and cold have sculpted our landscapes, created ecosystems for a vast array of species (some now extinct), and moderated the Earth’s climates. Then discover lands lost long ago under the world's oceans, and consider the impacts of living on a planet with no polar ice and no glaciers for the first time in human history.  

The Planet Ice journey begins in “deep time”. Examine the nature of ice: how it’s formed (hint: It's a mineral!), why glaciers are important to the world we know and how ice shaped the foundations for life on Earth.

Fast forward to 80,000 years ago, when fantastical creatures emerged—some of which became extinct (for example, woolly mammoths and cave bears), while others successfully adapted to survive and thrive (such as muskoxen, caribou and wolves)

Visitors will also encounter a Neanderthal adult and child, and learn the adaptations these hominids evolved to survive in the cold. These scientifically accurate, life-like models were created in the Netherlands by the Kennis brothers, world-renowned for their paleontological recreations.

As the millenia unfold, the journey continues to lost lands. Most prominent is the story of the Beringia land bridge that once joined Asia and North America with its unique landscape and biodiversity.

Visitors can then witness the rise of the mastodon and other imposing animals such as the smilodon, the short-faced bear and the giant beaver. They will also discover how land features seen today were created by giant ice sheets during the last glaciation.

Among the items displayed are authentic tools and arfifacts – most thousands of years old – that were used by the Tuniit (Dorset) and Thule-Inuit peoples to survive in a cold climate. These archeological treasures, curated at the Canadian Museum of Nature on behalf of the Government of Nunavut, have never before been shown publicly.

The final section of Planet Ice visits the modern day and beyond. Humans, in fact, have never lived at a time when ice is not present. Visitors will be inspired to reflect upon how the loss of ice, during a time of climate change, could affect species, infrastructure and ecosystems. 

Throughout Planet Ice, multimedia components will inform and inspire. Two magical “moments” will let visitors control the emergence of a woolly mammoth and an American lion from a snow-filled landscape. This combination of animation, artistry and technology is the result of a creative collaboration between the museum and Montreal’s award-winning multimedia studio, Moment Factory.

After Planet Ice ends its run at the Canadian Museum of Nature January 3, 2021, the exhibition will travel across Canada and internationally. The museum is grateful for the support of the exhibition’s presenting partner, Polar Knowledge Canada, as well as supporting sponsors Hatch and Enbridge.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa. A special exhibition fee applies for entry to Planet Ice. For more information, visit nature.ca.