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Our Research and Collections Facility

Text: Opposites. Image: An illustration of a Burchell's zebra (Equus quagga burchellii).

Virtual Open House

Opposites in Our Collections

Go behind-the-scenes to discover some amazing contrasts among our specimens.

The Natural Heritage Campus is the Canadian Museum of Nature's science and administration centre, officially opened in the spring of 1997. The campus is situated on 76 hectares of land in Gatineau, Quebec. The facility is designed to provide the standards of safety, security and preservation necessary to safeguard Canada's natural history collection. The Victoria Memorial Museum Building in Ottawa, Ontario, remains the site of the museum's exhibitions and galleries.


The Natural Heritage Campus was specially designed to foster advanced collection management and preservation techniques for natural history collections. The design of the building includes many innovative features such as a quarantine area with walk-in freezers for control of pest organisms, as well as a suite of laboratories to conduct state-of-the-art scientific research on animal, fossil, mineral and plant materials.

The museum chose to consolidate resources previously dispersed among several older buildings in the National Capital Region. By bringing together staff and resources into one centralized location, the museum is more efficient and focused. The Natural Heritage Campus provides a superior work environment for scientific studies, collection curation and development of new exhibitions.


The 20 478-square-metre building offers workspace configuration and security features to protect the collections from both human and natural hazards. The collection area has three large environmentally controlled components or "pods" that house 42 individual collection rooms and nine documentation rooms. The size of this area is equivalent to approximately one-and-a-half football fields. The building also includes specially equipped laboratories for the identification and preservation of specimens that are dry or stored in fluids.

Prior to moving to the Natural History Campus, staff undertook the enormous effort of reorganizing the museum's vast specimen collections. Nearly 1000 new cabinets were added to replace old, substandard cabinets and increase the amount of available storage space to avoid the overcrowding of specimens. More cabinets are added each year to accommodate the growing collections, and the collection storage area currently holds more than 3000 cabinets, custom-designed to improve organization and access.

Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature


Sustainable Solutions

The facility is designed to meet the preservation needs of the various collections while aiming to meet environmental sustainability targets by grouping individual collections according to their degree of susceptibility to environmental factors and pests. Some specimens are isolated in order to provide maximum environmental protection. None of the collections rooms has exterior walls; a specially sealed corridor surrounds the collections. This isolation provides a sustainable way to meet environmental conditions for the collections while minimizing the risks of pest entering the collection area.

New Knowledge

Research is essential to gain unbiased information needed to foster a greater understanding of the natural world. On the Natural Heritage Campus, Canadian Museum of Nature scientists conduct relevant research in zoology, palaeobiology, mineral sciences and botany.

The Canadian Museum of Nature's extensive library holdings are at the Natural Heritage Campus, thereby making it easy for researchers to gain quick access to reference works and current journals.


Except for the library, the building is not open to the public

Canadian Museum of Nature
1740 Pink Road
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
(Google map)