Canadian Museum of History

Client: Canadian Museum Construction Corporation, Canadian Museum of Civilization and Public Works Canada

Location: Gatineau, Quebec

Area: 93,000 sq.m

Cost: 245 million CAD including fitups

Completed: 1989 (base building), 1999 (additional exhibit fit-ups)

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau had a dream to raise Canada as a world leader. As part of this vision, he actuated a national competition to design world-class museums. Douglas Cardinal Architect was selected as the architect for the then-called “Museum of Man.”

Douglas Cardinal’s innovative solution to separate curatorial from exhibition spaces into two wings help to harmonize the museum with both its urban and natural settings. In the curatorial wing, offices around the perimeter allow natural light for staff while protecting the collections in the interior. In the exhibitions wing, large permanent exhibits interface with large areas for temporary exhibits. Two theatres for performing arts, and a Imax Omnimax complete the world-class national museum. The ambitious complex used the latest technologies of the time, including using water from the adjacent Ottawa River to heat and cool the museum, and fibre optic wiring throughout the museum to broadcast a virtual museum all over the world.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is rich in symbolism, and eloquent curves. It is the most visited building in Canada, with more than one million visitors each year. It is consistently chosen as a stage to host world leaders visiting the Nation’s Capital on official business.