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Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages

World-premiere exhibition opens Oct. 2 at Canadian Museum of Nature

OTTAWA, October 1, 2020 – Ice and cold have long shaped our planet, and the life and landscapes on it. A new exhibition developed by the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN), Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages, takes visitors on a fascinating journey across 80,000 years of Earth’s history. A world-premiere, it is on view at the Museum from October 2, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

This dramatic story of ice and adaptation is told through an interesting cast of characters that includes the woolly mammoth, mastodon, cave bear, giant beaver, American lion, and Neanderthals. While some species went extinct, others successfully adapted to survive and thrive (such as muskoxen, caribou and wolves).

All this is presented through 120 specimens, artifacts and models, which are complemented by interactives and multimedia that drive home the theme that we are still living in an ice age, but the planet is changing with the impacts of climate change.

After its run in Ottawa, the exhibition will travel to other venues across Canada and the United States.

 “As Canada’s national natural history museum, we’re proud to present this eye-opening exhibition about the critical role that ice and cold have played in shaping the environment we know today,” says Meg Beckel, the Museum’s President and CEO. “We drew from our extensive national collections and scientific expertise to tell this timely story in collaboration with scientific partners. We are grateful for the support of the exhibition’s presenting partner, Polar Knowledge Canada, as well as supporting sponsors, Hatch and Enbridge.”

“It is an honour for Polar Knowledge Canada to be the Presenting Partner for this spectacular new exhibit,” says Dr. Alain Leclair, POLAR’s Director of Science and Technology. “Understanding how cold and ice have shaped the Arctic and the lives of the people who live there—from ancient times through to today—has never been more important as we become ever more aware of how the region is changing, and how those changes affect the rest of our planet.”

In addition to weird and wonderful creatures, the life-like sculptures of a Neanderthal adult and child are sure to be a popular draw. The scientifically accurate models were created in the Netherlands by the Kennis brothers, world-renowned for their paleontological recreations. Visitors will learn how Neanderthals were adapted to live in a cold environment.

Other highlights include skeletal casts of a mastodon, giant beaver, short-faced bear, and Smilodon—a saber-toothed cat that became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

Authentic tools and other artifacts that were used by the Tuniit (Dorset) and Thule-Inuit peoples in Canada’s Arctic will also be on display. These archeological treasures—most over a thousand years old—have never before been formally put on exhibit. They are curated at the Canadian Museum of Nature on behalf of the Government of Nunavut.

Along with the impressive specimens, artifacts and models, visitors will enjoy two “magical moments” that create the illusion of a woolly mammoth or American lion emerging 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.

Content development of this exhibition relied on partnerships with the Royal Alberta Museum, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, the Canadian Museum of History and the CBC. Experts who provided scientific information and advice included Dr. Grant Zazula, palaeontologist with the Government of Yukon and CMN Research Associate; Prof. Chris Stringer with the Natural History Museum, London; Prof. Ian Fairchild, University of Birmingham, and Dr. Jill Cook with the British Museum.

In the final section of Planet Ice, visitors will be encouraged to reflect how the loss of ice, during a time of climate change, could affect species, infrastructure and ecosystems. 

“Hatch and the Canadian Museum of Nature share a mutual interest and desire to create a vibrant future for our natural world”, says Hatch’s Chairman and CEO John Bianchini. “We believe that partnerships between business and the scientific community allow us to create positive change on key issues related to climate change and sustainability.”

“As a Canadian company deeply committed to protecting our natural environment, Enbridge is proud to support this exhibit,” says Byron Neiles, Executive VP, Corporate Services.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa. A special exhibition fee applies for entry to Planet Ice. Due to COVID precautions, visitors must reserve tickets in advance and for specific times. For more information, visit nature.ca. Follow the museum on social media: Twitter.com/museumofnature, Facebook.com/Canadianmuseumofnature and Instagram.com/museumofnature. 

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About the Canadian Museum of Nature
Saving the world through evidence, knowledge, and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.

About Polar Knowledge Canada
Polar Knowledge Canada is a federal agency responsible for advancing Canada's knowledge of the Arctic, strengthening Canadian leadership in polar science and technology, and promoting development and distribution of knowledge of other circumpolar regions, including Antarctica. POLAR strengthens and coordinates research partnerships and mobilizes new knowledge, in a meaningful and accessible way, to address the concerns of northern communities.

About Hatch
Whatever our clients envision, our engineers can design and build. With over six decades of business and technical experience in the mining, energy, and infrastructure sectors, we know your business and understand that your challenges are changing rapidly. We respond quickly with solutions that are smarter, more efficient and innovative. We draw upon our 9,000 staff with experience in over 150 countries to challenge the status quo and create positive change for our clients, our employees, and the communities we serve. Find out more on www.hatch.com.

About Moment Factory
Moment Factory is a multimedia studio with a full range of production expertise under one roof. Our team combines specializations in video, lighting, architecture, sound and special effects to create remarkable experiences. Headquartered in Montreal, the studio also has other addresses in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Paris, New York City and Singapore. Since its inception in 2001, Moment Factory has created more than 450 unique projects worldwide, including the Lumina Night Walk series. Productions span the globe and include such clients as Changi Airport, Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Disney, Arcade Fire, Microsoft, Sony, Boston Museum of Science, Madonna, Cipriani, Universal Studios, the Toronto Zoo and the Reims Cathedral.

Media relations contacts:

Dan Smythe
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.9253
dsmythe@nature.ca