Discover noteworthy specimens on display in our galleries through interesting facts, and then see each one in 3D—along with the rest of the gallery—by entering into our 3D virtual tour.
Beyond Ice Is Made from Real Ice!
Canada Goose Arctic Gallery
Beyond Ice is a sculpture made from real ice! The sculpture works a lot like an older, non-defrosting freezer. Slabs of metal are underneath the built-up ice.
In this multimedia experience, you will hear running water, birds, drumming and wind giving a full experience of the Arctic cold and culture.
The sculpture was made in France and came to Ottawa by ship and transport truck.
It was produced with Inuit artists, filmmakers, and sound designers, in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada.
Find Beyond Ice in our 3D virtual tour of our Canada Goose Arctic Gallery.
Experience Birds Up Close
In the flying-birds case, get up close to amazing specimens of birds—from the Great Blue Heron to the Canada Goose. See them suspended in flight from every angle—something that is not possible in nature.
To identify birds, you have to notice their differences and similarities.
Each bird has a job to do, depending on the environment where they live. To identify birds, we look for the adaptations that they have developed to help them do those jobs.
For example, you can tell where birds live by their feet: some are good for swimming and others are good for perching on a branch or catching prey.
And beaks are their tools for eating: certain beaks may be good for catching fish, some are better for eating seeds, and yet others are for tearing open small prey animals.
See these magnificent birds in a 3D virtual tour of our Bird Gallery.
A Bison and a Pack of Wolves Stand Off
A bison (Bison bison) has wandered from its herd and a pack of Arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos) is moving in for the kill in this dramatic scene depicted in our amazing diorama, designed and painted by the well-known 20th-century Canadian landscape artist Clarence Tillenius.
This amazing scene depicts the view that Tillenius had when he visited Wood Buffalo National Park, Northwest Territories. This is one of the best places to see the artistry that went into making the dioramas in the Mammal Gallery.
Most of our dioramas were created in the 1950s and 1960s. Dioramas were the best way to see animals up close in all their glory—it was like going to see a nature documentary in 3D. They remain beautiful and dramatic scenes, despite the technique being less common today.
Discover the dioramas in our 3D virtual tour of the Mammal Gallery.
Take a Trip into the Limestone Cave
Limestone is primarily composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite, a calcium carbonate, is soluble in acidic solutions—that is, it will slowly be dissolved by rain and groundwater. That's how the cave represented here would have been formed.
Observe the stalactites and stalagmites. They are created in caves as rainwater drips down through limestone and dissolves the carbonate minerals along the way.
Stalactites hang down from the ceiling, and stalagmites grow up from the floor. An easy way to remember the difference is that a "stalac-tite" holds "tight" to the ceiling.
Caves offer unique ecosystems. If you keep your eye out, you may find some of the local residents, including bats.
Come into the Earth Gallery in our 3D virtual tour.
Meet Daspletosaurus, a Cousin of the T. rex
This is Daspletosaurus torosus, a meat-eating, early "cousin" of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Found in Alberta, this skeleton displayed in the Fossil Gallery is 85% real! The head is a cast because the real fossilized skull would be far too heavy to display.
This skeleton is what scientists call the holotype of Daspletosaurus torosus, this means that it was the first specimen used to describe the species.
A dinosaur like this didn't walk around upright like Godzilla. It evolved to run leaning over like you see here, on muscular back legs. It's actually standing on its toes. Notice the long tail—it balances out the huge head.
See Daspletosaurus in our 3D virtual tour of the Fossil Gallery.
The Largest Creature to Ever Exist on Earth
Meet Tallulah! The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest creature to ever exist on Earth—even larger than any dinosaur.
This blue whale was found in 1975 on a beach in Newfoundland. She was four to six years old when she was struck by a ship. A full-grown blue whale would fill our Water Gallery from end to end!
Blue whales aren't just the largest creatures on Earth, they're the loudest. This whale's call could have been heard 200 km away—the distance between Ottawa and Montréal.
Blue whales eat tiny shrimp-like creatures called krill. Inside a blue whale's mouth are rows of baleen. Baleen is made of keratin, the same material as your fingernails and hair. A whale takes a huge gulp of water and the baleen strains out the krill. For an animal this size, she's got to eat a lot of krill, up to 40 million a day.
This is one of only three blue whales displayed in Canada. Come meet Tallulah in our 3D virtual tour of the Water Gallery.