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  6. New Canada Goose Arctic gallery at the Museum reveals fascinating diversity of this fast-changing region

New Canada Goose Arctic gallery at the Museum reveals fascinating diversity of this fast-changing region

OTTAWA, June 20, 2017—A contemporary take on Canada’s Arctic, as seen through its rich natural diversity and connections to people, is ready to open June 21 at the Canadian Museum of Nature. The permanent Canada Goose Arctic Gallery represents the museum’s legacy project to the mark Canada’s 150th anniversary.

“Our goal with the gallery is to transform people’s understanding of the Arctic and to create a space that will expose Canadians and visitors from abroad to this important part of our country,“ says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “We have drawn on the museum’s historic leadership in Arctic knowledge and exploration, as well as consultations with Northern Indigenous groups and individuals, to reflect the deep connections between the Arctic’s natural environment and the activities of humans.”

Canada’s Arctic represents about 40% of the country’s land mass. It includes 53 communities with more than 100,000 people, and is home to a surprising diversity of aquatic and land-based organisms. The Canada Goose Arctic Gallery reveals this beautiful yet mysterious region through more than 200 specimens and artifacts, interactives, multimedia and special surprises. Visitors will explore the Arctic’s natural landscapes and its plants and animals, hear the voices of the people such as the Inuit that live there and be prompted to reflect about the impacts of change—in the past, in the present, and into the future.

“The Canadian Museum of Nature highlights the richness of our natural world and the importance of sustainable stewardship of the environment. I invite everyone to visit the new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery to discover and understand this fascinating part of the country,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “Enjoy the Canada 150 celebrations!”

Gallery Overview
Upon entering the 8,000-sq.-ft. gallery, a unique multimedia installation called Beyond Ice transports visitors to the Arctic with a sensory experience of the region’s sounds, light, sights, and even touch—through real ice! Developed as a co-creation with the National Film Board of Canada, Beyond Ice features Arctic scenes and animation by Inuit artists projected on the ice, which bring the installation to life as visitors walk around it and explore the ice up close.

Visitors then enter the Wing, where four themed zones covering climate, geography, sustainability and ecosystems immerse visitors in the Arctic’s diversity and human connections with the land. Each zone features specimens or artifacts, interactive games and activities, videos and infographics. Timeframes range from the deep geological past, when the Arctic was much warmer than today, to the present, where animals and humans are facing the challenges of climate change.

Highlights include an assortment of “star” objects that represent the themes in each of the four zones. A 3-D circumpolar map anchors the geography zone, for example. A bowhead whale skull leads into the sustainability zone, which examines how Arctic peoples have used, and continue to use natural resources—from interactions with animals and plants for food, clothing, and tools, to the extraction of energy resources, to the continuing connections to the land.

In the ecosystems zone, look forward to a magnificent specimen of a polar bear, a muskox and its calf, a caribou, a colony of Thick-billed Murres, and many lesser known, yet relevant species – from phytoplankton, to plants to birds and small mammals. Inuit and Dene names for many of the animals are included. Two aquaria, one including Arctic Cod from the Vancouver Aquarium, vividly bring to life the Arctic’s marine food web.

Brief videos called “People Capsules” in each zone present the first-person experiences of those who live or work in the Arctic. There are also numerous human artifacts to convey the story of a region where people have lived for millennia. Some of the objects are on extended loan from the Government of Nunavut, including a traditional kayak made of sealskin and items from the crew of Sir John Franklin’s doomed final expedition. Notebooks and gear from the first Canadian Arctic Expedition 100 years ago represent the museum’s long-standing history of Arctic exploration and species discovery, which has resulted in one of the world’s finest collection of Arctic natural-history specimens.

Among the gallery’s surprises is a larger-than-life deconstructed mural entitled Ilurqusivut (Our ways). The artwork, designed by Inuk artist Nancy Saunders from Kuujjuaq, Quebec, fuses realism and abstract geometric shapes to present key aspects of Inuit culture. Adapted for the wing of the gallery, it presents an optical illusion that appears to present a two-dimensional work of art in three dimensions, with an image that becomes fragmented when viewed from different perspectives (a style referred to as Anamorphosis).

The museum developed the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery with input from an advisory committee, in order to include perspectives of Indigenous communities and others with experience in the Arctic. One outcome is the Northern Voices Gallery, a special exhibition space to be curated by Northerners. Exhibits will reflect past and current responses of northern peoples to their environment and landscapes. The inaugural show “Inuinnauyugut: We are Inuinnait”, is presented by the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, based in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. It explores the culture of the Inuinnait (Copper Inuit) and examines the centennial anniversary of Inuinnait contact with Europeans, with around 50 historic artefacts and contemporary items on display.

Partners that have helped achieve the vision of the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery include the National Film Board of Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Ocean Wise and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Oceans North Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nunavut Sivuniksavut, Polar Knowledge Canada, ArcticNet, Lindblad Expeditions, BuildFilms, the Canadian Museum of History, the McCord Museum, Students on Ice, Carleton University and Dalhousie University.

In addition to the signature title sponsorship from Canada Goose Inc., the museum has received financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (for the programming zone), First Air, The Salamander Foundation and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. The design consultant for the gallery is GSM Project in Montreal.                                                                                                   

The gallery includes a hands-on programming zone complete with a large circumpolar map. Guides activities using the map include learning about the treeline, the peoples of the Arctic, and scientific expeditions that have been led by museum staff. Complementing the opening of the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery is a full season of activities at the museum called “Focus on the Arctic”. Varied activities take place on special weekends: throat-singing, Inuit games, information stations on Arctic species, a celebration of Nunavut Day on July 9, a demonstration of traditional Inuit sewing techniques on August 6, story-telling by an Inuk elder, and more. Daily from June 24 to Labour Day, children can enjoy the Activity Zone, which features a ceiling-high, inflated polar bear as well as hands-on activities such as inuksuk-building, an Explorer’s Tent and creative fun with modelling clay. 

Entry to the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery will be included with general museum admission. The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa. Follow the museum on Twitter (@museumofnature) or on Facebook. For more information, visit nature.ca.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
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 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum’s Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration continues the museum’s legacy of more than 100 years of research, documentation, and collections about the biodiversity of Canada’s North.

Information for media, including images:  
Dan Smythe
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.566.4781; 613.698.9253 (cell)

Laura Sutin
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.7142 (cell)