Category Archives: Museums by Size

Though April showers have come your way…

They’ve brought the flowers that bloom this May!

For those of us living in the Ottawa region, or visiting the area, you’re in luck! This month is one of the nicest times of the year to come visit the city, because May brings the Tulip Festival!

It’s always lovely wandering around the city, listening to Music in the Tulips, checking out the Tulip Art installations you can find at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, or the Canadian Aviation Museum.

Check the weather forecast! Bring out the bicycles and take the family on a beautiful ride through some of the many parks that are blossoming right now!  If the weather forecast looks a little wet or chilly, you’re in luck!

The Canadian Aviation Museum is hosting a few really interesting events in conjunction with the Tulip Festival.  On May 15th & 22nd they’re hosting a wide array of sessions based around the Liberation of Holland, but a few of the more family friendly ones are:

Lancaster Bomber Paper Model Workshop

10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Ages 7 and up

Color, cut and assemble a model of this famous bomber. The Canada Aviation Museum has one of only seventeen Lancaster bombers left in the entire world — can you spot it in the Museum?

Printmaking Workshop

10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — All ages

Make a print using images inspired by real photographs, taken by the Dutch during Operation Manna in the spring of 1945. (Source

For those of you unfamiliar with the origins of the Tulip Festival, you can learn more here. Brief synopsis?

“In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, in the Second World War.

The most noteworthy event during their time in Canada was the birth in 1943 of Princess Margriet to Princess Juliana at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward was declared to be officially a temporary part of international territory, so that she would be born in no country and would inherit only her Dutch citizenship from her mother. In 1946, Juliana sent another 20,500 bulbs requesting that a display be created for the hospital, and promised to send 10,000 more bulbs each year.”

– Source Wikipedia, April 28th 2010

That’s all for now! Hope you get the chance to enjoy the beautiful weather, scenery, and interesting festivals going on in Ottawa this May.


Civilization, on your own terms

*Caveat: I’m late on the uptake with this, but…

The Canadian Museum of Civilization recently announced the launch of it’s mobile application for the Blackberry (an iPhone & iPod touch app was already launched in December 2009). Their app is the first museum application built for Blackberry in Canada.

Now anyone from around the world can plan their trip to the museum in Gatineau, Quebec, from their smartphones. The apps feature museum hours, special events, interactive floor maps, and public services.

While visitors are at the museum, they can also take personal tours through Canada Hall and First People’s Hall – two of Civilization’s most popular exhibits.

For instructions on downloading the app for either Blackberry or iPhone, visit:

Personally, I’d like to congratulate the Museum of Civilization on 1) being my favourite museum in the Ottawa region, and 2) for their extraordinary efforts in taking their museum to the next digital level.

Museum marketing and interactive exhibits from around the world have undergone a lot of innovation in recent years, but bringing this type of museum accessibility to BOTH iPhone and Blackberry is definitely a milestone in achievement for all Canadian museums. I would imagine that since both the Canadian War Museum and the Museum of Civilization are under the same corporation, the War Museum will probably have an application like this in the near future. Congratulations!

If you haven’t checked out the Museum of Civilization lately, go now! From Sept 2009 – Sept 2010, they have an interesting looking exhibit about the fur traders (or you can preview their virtual exhibit online).

This one time, at the Gallery

Last week I went to the National Gallery to check out the Szilasi exhibit (which totally rocked my world), and I found ANOTHER exhibit which I loved EVEN MORE!

The exhibit is called David Hoffos: Scenes from the House Dream, and it’s open at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa until February 14th.

It’s a series of beautiful dioramas that indulge your senses on a way I never thought possible by installations. For a sneak peak, check out some of the videos on his website.

Here are a few snapshots from my outing! (Please excuse the quality – my iPhone and I haven’t quite mastered the art of photography yet)

National Gallery of Canada

Before visiting the exhibits, the NGC wows you with its stunning architecture

National Gallery of Canada - Parliament buildings in the background

With a beautiful view of the Parliament buildings in the background

The Garden Court

Szilasi Exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada

Elephants playing dead on huge screens at the National Gallery

Douglas Gordon. Play Dead: Real Time

Walking out of the building, stumbled upon this gem

If you haven’t been recently, I STRONGLY encourage you to take a visit. I don’t think I’m qualified to be an “art enthusiast”, but I always love going to the Gallery.

*Bonus: On Thursdays after 5pm, it’s free!

*Bonus#2: Makes a lovely (and inexpensive) date.

The Eloquence of the Everyday: Gabor Szilasi

Gabor Szilasi's Motorcyclists at Lake Balaton (1954)

Gabor Szilasi's Motorcyclists at Lake Balaton (1954)

“When people ask me how I began to take photographs, unlike many artists, photographers, painters and actors, I do not have a nice story to tell. No archangel appeared to me in my dreams and said,

‘Gabor Szilasi, go by a leica and you will become a great photographer.’

It was nothing like that. I simply felt the need to take photographs, to put what I saw on film. And so I began to film.”

– Gabor Szilasi, 1980

I know what I’m doing after work today.  It’s not watching Oprah, or hitting the gym, or grocery shopping. I’m going to the Gallery to immerse myself in some gorgeous Hungarian/Quebecois photography.

I stumbled across this exhibit today.  Organized by Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Musée d’art de Joliette, Gabor Szilasi’s The Eloquence of the Everyday is on display at the National Gallery for only ten more days, until January 17th. Luckily, Thursdays are the only day of the week that the National Gallery of Canada is open until 8pm (usually their opening hours are 10-5pm), and on Thursdays after 5pm, admission is FREE!

I could go on and on about how breathtakingly beautiful his photography is, but I’ll leave it up to you to go visit the exhibit (or at least check out the video below).

Gabor Szilasi: The Eloquence of the Everyday

Gabor Szilasi: The Eloquence of the Everyday

And if you can’t go to the Gallery, take a look at the book!

240 pages of everyday eloquence, as shot by Szilasi himself.

Simply. Beautiful….

Wow. (note: this is what I should have asked for this Christmas. Maybe next year…)

KickstArt 2010

I’ll admit – I’ve recently become a Vancouver 2010 junkie. I went for a trip to Vancouver/Whistler about a month ago, and since then I’ve been caught up in all things Olympics. The torch relay, the completition, the tourism proponents and opponents, and the fuzzy red mittens have all captured my attention more than I thought they could.

In reading about Vancouver (and remembering my trip), I found out about KickstArt, which is:

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Kickstart (formerly the Society for Disability Arts and Culture) presents and produces works by artists with disabilities and promotes artistic excellence among artists with disabilities working in a  variety of disciplines.
One of their big events this year is the Cultural Olympiad – a 60 day series of cultural showcases and events in and around Vancouver and other parts of BC. The series runs from January 22nd to March 21st, 2010 and promises to showcase some amazing talent.

I couldn’t find much information about the individual events for the Cultural Olympiad, but here is the blurb I found at  It showcases only some of the events for KickstArt’s Cultural Olympiad (note: these events are focused on the hearing-impaired and are all ASL interpreted).

KickstArt, UBC, Ryerson University and the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad present Out From Under: Disability History and Things to Remember at UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson St., March 9-21, 8:00 am-10:00 pm daily. Curated by Kathryn Church, Catherine Frazee and Melanie Panitch, this show premiered in summer 2008 at the Royal Ontario Museum. It is a groundbreaking and artful exhibit that pays tribute to the resilience, creativity, and the civic and cultural contributions of Canadians with disabilities. Recipient of the 2008 Access Award for Disability Issues, and jury-selected for Design at Work 2008. Free.

KickstArt and the Pendulum Gallery present Heroes at the Pendulum Gallery, HSBC Bldg, 885 W. Georgia, March 8 – 27. Co-curated by Elizabeth Shefrin and Bernadine Fox, 20 participating artists from across the country have been asked to engage with notions of The Heroic, as it applies to the disability community. It’s hoped the exhibition will invite visual meditation or commentary within the context of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Mon-Wed 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Thurs/Fri 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sat 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Free.

KickstArt and UBC present She Laughed! She Cried! at Telus Studio Theatre at the UBC Chan Centre For the Performing Arts, 6265 Cresent Rd, UBC, March 12. A double-header, beginning with Sara Marreiros, a Victoria-based fado artist, with her band. Funny in the Head is the rollicking story of a bipolar comedian’s fight to stay funny, written and performed by Jan Derbyshire. Tickets $22/$16 at, 604-280-3311.

KickstArt, Vancouver International Dance Festival and the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad present Configurations at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, March 20 and 21, 8:00 pm. Geometry of the Circle, performed by Alison Denham and Mark Brose, is a remount of the critically acclaimed duet choreographed by Canadian modern dance legend Peggy Baker. Bill Shannon, influenced by house and hip hop dance forms, silent film acting and skateboard culture, performs Spatial Theory, a multi-media show in four acts integrating Shannon’s unique hybrid movement on crutches. Tickets $25-35 on March 20; $75 on March 21. Gala also includes Peggy Baker performing Earthling. Tickets at

Pretty cool, eh? Definitely makes me want to go back to Vancouver…

Building the Canal – a Virtual Exhibit from the Bytown Museum

One of the scenes from the 3D tour of the building of the locks on the rideau canal

A 3D tour of the Rideau Canal locks system

I was perusing the Virtual Museum of Canada today and came across a really nice gallery of images from the Bytown Museum.

This virtual exhibit chronicles the building of the Rideau Canal and the key players who made it happen. At first glance, I thought the silent animation on the homepage was the entire project. Then I went to “The Animation” page, and I found a series of downloadable movie files that explains why the locks were built, how they work, and the general history of early settlement in Ottawa.

It also showcases an early tour of the bytown museum, the commissariat originally built for the locks project.

The tour takes 10 minutes, so you need some time to watch it, but it’s a pretty interesting 3D tour of the Bytown Museum before it was the museum.

If you’re interested in the actual 3D project itself, check out the “About the Project” page, and you can see how hard everyone worked on getting the exhibit finished for the VMC.

’tis the season to be learning – in Ontario

Take your family to the ROM this holiday!

A trip to the ROM is a great way to spend some quality time with your family over the holidays

It’s that time of the year again – the time when schools are out for two weeks, your house is full of sugary treats and your kids are bouncing off the walls!

So what do you do if you’re little angels don’t want to brave the cold and go play in the snow? Give them the gift of fun and learning!

How can YOU benefit from getting out to see museums?

1. You get out of the house – no mess to clean up, no dishes to do, no indoor floor hockey to monitor with breakables

2. Your kids are still learning – they’re not in school, but museums teach kids a lot of stuff they may not cover in schools, and are generally a more fun and interactive way of doing it.

3. You’re still learning! If you’re like me, a lifelong learning proponent, you’ll love the opportunity to discover something new and interesting with your kids AND your friends.

4. Discounts are EVERYWHERE. There is no better opportunity to visit museums than over the holidays. Almost every day of the holidays boasts discounted, half-price, or even free admissions to many institutions in your city.

Below are some of the museums, exhibits, and discounts you’ll find in major cities in Ontario this holiday season.

In Ottawa

  • The Canadian Museum of Nature has free admission on Saturdays from 9am to 12 pm and free admission at all times for children 3 and under. In addition, you can go to the library and take out the ‘nature card’ which allows for free general admission for a family if you wish to go on a day other than Saturday
  • The Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization both have free admission Thursdays from 4pm to 8pm. The Children’s museum closes early on a few dates over the holidays. You can check out their hours here. Also note, Canadian veterans and up to three guests always get free admission as do members of the Canadian Forces
  • The National Gallery of Canada offers free admission to the permanent collection Thursdays after 5pm and free admission to children 12 and under for all exhibits.
  • The Canada Science and Technology Museum offers free admission on International Museum Day ( Monday May 18th this year) and on Canada Day (July 1st) in addition to free admission for children under the age of 4.

In Toronto

  • Admission to the Royal Ontario Museum is free on Wednesdays after 4:30pm. The ROM has special half price holiday admissions (for general admission only) every day during the holidays from 4:30-8:30. They also have extended holiday hours and are hosting the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, so the Christmas holidays are an ideal opportunity to take your family to the ROM!
  • The Mackenzie House on Bond Street has a special kids craft making program on for the holidays (from December 29th-Jan 3rd) for the following prices: Child: $3.33, Youth: $3.81, Adult: $5.71 and Senior: $3.81. (They’re not free, but still an fun and inexpensive afternoon out of the house!).
  • The CBC Museum has FREE admission for everyone on weekdays from 9-5pm. They’re currently hosting the exhibit “Growing up with the CBC” (ie – bringing you back to your days of Mr. Dressup). I haven’t seen the exhibit yet, but if I were in Toronto for the holidays, I would definitely make a trip down there to check it out.
  • It’s not a museum, but the Toronto Zoo has half price admissions for everyone,
    Take this holiday season to discover the ROM

    for the entire holiday season!

If you know of any admissions discounts or special events in an Ontario city of the holiday break, leave a comment below! I’ve searched for a few, but I’m sure there are tons more opportunities for inexpensive mini-trips all over the province.

Residents of other provinces – don’t worry, there will be more posts as the week continues about museums and special holiday discounts in your province.

Remember, this holiday season you can give the gift of quality time, fun, and education to your family.  Why not take advantage of it?