Best Ottawa Museums

Posted Feb 7th 2011 10:00 AMUpdated Feb 7th 2011 02:27 PM

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Ottawa Museums

Ottawa Tourism

Visitors to Ottawa can be overwhelmed by choice when it comes to museums. The city is home to museums focusing on everything from nature and fine art to currency and skiing. Very few visitors can hope to see them all, so here are some of the best.

National Gallery of Canada

Even people who wouldn't know a Hockney from a hockey game are drawn to this dramatic glass-and-granite landmark overlooking the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River. The Great Hall offers a spectacular view of the Library of Parliament. Strengths of the collection include Canadian art, indigenous art, photography and modern art. Don't miss the Group of Seven galleries, home to iconic Canadian works like North Shore Lake Superior by Lawren Harris. The bookstore is a great place to browse for coffee table books, posters, jewelery and gifts.

Hours: Mon-Sun 10AM-5PM (Thurs until 8PM) from May 1-September 30; Tues-Sun 10AM-5PM from October 1-April 30 (on national and provincial holidays, hours vary).

Admission: Adults $9, seniors and full-time students $7, youth (12-19) $4, family (two adults, three youths) $18. Free for children under 12. Free for everyone Thurs after 5PM. Special exhibitions may require additional ticket.

National Gallery of Canada
P.O. Box 427, Station A
Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4
613-990-1985

Canadian Museum of Civilization

Like the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization is also a local landmark, but the two buildings couldn't be more different. In contrast to the gallery's sharp angles, this museum is all undulating lines and curved corners. Exhibits focus on Canada's history from its earliest known roots to the present. In the Grand Hall, six replica Pacific Coast Indian house facades stand against a backdrop of towering totem poles. Other permanent exhibits highlight Canada's social history and famous Canadians. The museum is also home to a two-screen IMAX theatre.

Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-6PM from May 1-June 30; Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-6PM from July 1-September 6; Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-6PM from September 7-October 11; Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-5PM from October 12-April 30 (on national and provincial holidays, hours vary).

Admission: Adults $12, seniors and full-time students $10, children (3-12) $9, family (two adults, three youths) $30. Free for everyone Thurs after 4PM. IMAX movies require a separate admission fee; various combination tickets are available.

Canadian Museum of Civilization
100 Laurier Street
Gatineau, QC K1A 0M8
819-776-7000

Canadian Museum of Nature

This venerable institution-the castle-like building dates to 1912-recently finished a massive renovation that added a glassed-in entrance tower and completely overhauled the galleries. The result is still one of the capital's most kid-friendly museums. New exhibition spaces include the Animalium with its live insects and arachnids; the RBC Blue Water Gallery, which features a giant skeleton of a blue whale; and the Vale Earth Gallery, a geological exhibition space. Other galleries focus on birds, mammals, fossils and more. On holidays, the museum usually offers programs for families.

Hours: Tues-Sun 9AM-5PM (Thurs until 8PM) from September 7-April 30; Mon-Sun 9AM-6PM (Thurs and Fri until 8PM) from May 1-September 6 (on national and provincial holidays, hours vary).

Admission: Adults $10, seniors and youth (13-17) $8, children $6, family (maximum five people, with a maximum of three adults) $25. Free for children three and under.

Canadian Museum of Nature
240 McLeod Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1
613-566-4700

Canadian War Museum

Far from a glorification of war, this museum offers a thoughtful examination of the roots of conflict and a fairly unvarnished look at Canada's involvement in several centuries of battles. Occasionally, that look can be too unvarnished for some; several exhibitions that have suggested Canada's wartime record is less than perfect have drawn ire from critics. The chronologically arranged galleries make it easy to follow the overall narrative. The museum's stark architecture, designed to evoke a bunker, fits the sombre theme.

Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-6PM from May 1-June 30; Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-6PM from July 1-September 6; Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-6PM from September 7-October 11; Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM (Thurs until 8PM), Sat-Sun 9:30AM-5PM from October 12-April 30 (on national and provincial holidays, hours vary).

Admission: Adults $12, seniors and full-time students $10, children (3-12) $9, family (two adults, three youths) $30. Free for everyone Thurs after 4PM. IMAX movies require a separate admission fee; various combination tickets are available.

Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8
819-776-8600

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