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President's Reflections on 2019

It is inspiring to reflect on our first full year engaged in advancing the Canadian Museum of Nature's new global mission to save the world for future generations with evidence, knowledge and inspiration. In the spirit of that global mission, my reflections this year will consider how we contributed to each component of our mission.

Evidence: Exploring to collect, preserve and manage physical evidence of the flora, fauna and geology of Canada and the world across geography and over time. As such, the museum "saves" the world for scientific study and public observation.

Insects: A year-end gift of more than 20 000 specimens leading to a worthwhile effort to find space for these important additions to the national collection.

GBIF Global Biodiversity Information Facility: The museum continues to participate in the governance of this global body responsible for hosting billions of records of biodiversity data. Canadian Museum of Nature data alone triggered 1.2 BILLION downloads.

GSC: The Geological Survey of Canada continues its important work to database its collection before moving to the Canadian Museum of Nature's Natural Heritage Campus facility, where it will be curated with the rest of the national geological collection.

Open House: Almost 4,000 visitors participated in the annual open house at our research and collections campus in Gatineau, Quebec, where they met research scientists, collections experts, conservators, library scientists and public-program staff. It involved all hands on deck, including IT and exhibitions staff in costume as Martin the Moose.

Full year of operation of the National Biodiversity Cryobank of Canada included many tours with colleagues from museums, universities, government and NGOs.

Knowledge: Undertaking original research or collaborating with other scientific institutions in Canada and abroad to develop new scientific knowledge, while at the same time providing physical or digital access to the museum's national natural-history collections.

Research fieldwork: More than 350 days in the field exploring, collecting and documenting the biodiversity and geodiversity of Canada and the world.

Papers, citations and other uses of the Canadian Museum of Nature collection were reported in the first annual Science Review: 255 papers were published by museum staff and associates and/or enabled by the museum's collection of 14.6 million natural-history specimens.

Students mentored: More than 35 undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students were mentored by our research-and-collections experts, inspiring the next generation of collections-based research scientists.

Scientific training program: This program funded eight undergraduate and Master's students who are seeking to learn more about collections-based research science under the supervision of a Canadian Museum of Nature expert.

Contribution to global dialogue: Our scientific experts provided insights on various reports and positions for the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility), SPNHC (Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections), Biodiversity Next! and IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services).

Inspiration: Building on the foundation of its extensive collections and research, and working with internationally renowned partners, the museum uses its exhibitions, programming, digital outreach and internationally travelling exhibitions program to present scientific evidence and knowledge. These efforts inspire new reflections and encourage actions that will "save the world" for future generations.

Blitz week: Five days of scrubbing mosaic tiles, patting down oil leeching from the blue whale, vacuuming the polar bears, dusting the fossils, feeding the fish, cleaning aquaria, and replacing lights, all while hosting a few local celebrities who are keen to participate in this annual tradition.

Boutique: New approach, new merchandise, greater selection with a focus on Canadiana; inspiring connections to our gallery content and our engaged and dedicated staff.

Survival of the Slowest: More sloth time for everyone with a special extension of this popular exhibition into April 2019. Survival of the Slowest, produced with Little Ray's Nature Centres, then moved on to Halifax.

Pterosaurs: Our summer special exhibition was a hit with visitors from the National Capital Region, across Canada and around the world. Combined with the Butterflies offer and our 3D movies, there was something for everyone all summer.

The special summer offering resulted in 97% visitor satisfaction and 97% likely to recommend the museum. It's a great result, thanks to the dedicated team at the Victoria Memorial Museum Building (VMMB).

Moon at the Museum: La Méduse moved out of The Queens' Lantern as Luke Jerram's 7-metre moon sculpture moved in! In addition, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing was commemorated with Michael Benson's Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System, a display of our very own Goodwill Moon Rock, and public presentations from Canada's astronauts.

Ocean Plastics in the Water Gallery: Inspired by the Ocean Plastics Lab exhibition from Germany, presented in 2018, we created a natural-history-museum approach to the important story of the impact of micro-plastics to life on our planet.

Qilalukkat!: Sustainable harvesting of belugas is a way of life for the Inuvialuit and this story is told through a special exhibition updated by Canadian Museum of Nature from the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre in NWT.

Sleepovers: Who can resist the chance to sleep with the dinosaurs? Well it seems there were hundreds who could not resist—from youth-based clubs, to families to adults. More coming in 2020.

Public engagement reached millions on-site, off-site and online through Nature News, Nature Scoop, Nature Blog, Nature Content, Nature YouTube and a recently launched collaboration with CBC on curio.ca that features Canadian Museum of Nature content about the Arctic.

Making it all possible:

  • Budget 2016: Facilities and systems investments continued to be completed, bringing new boilers to the VMMB and new chillers to the Natural Heritage Campus.
  • The Tessitura customer-relationship-management system continues to provide essential services to our front-line team, serving visitors and members.
  • Employee engagement: Recommendations on professional development, employee training, employee recognition and volunteers continued in 2019 with particular emphasis on the Public School of Canada online education platform.
  • Record year for memberships, with more than 7000 member households choosing to become museum members so they can visit whenever they want during the year.
  • Record year for corporate sponsorship with our December 2019 opening of Me and My Microbes, sponsored by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, University of Calgary, BioGaia and The Globe and Mail.
  • Office 365 and SharePoint are our new digital-system friends, supporting a more collaborative, efficient and effective museum enterprise.
  • We welcomed new trustees to our governing board—they were welcomed with a tour of the research and collections facility, the Nature Inspiration Awards gala, the staff-recognition breakfast and the research Ignite session. Lots to learn about the great national treasure that we manage for Canada.
  • All of this is made possible by the hundreds of people with a passion for our purpose, including our staff, volunteers, students, suppliers, funders and collaborators.

Thank you for playing your role in the Canadian Museum of Nature's global mission to save the world for future generations with evidence, knowledge and inspiration.

Meg Beckel
President and CEO
Canadian Museum of Nature