The sign at the entrance to the Children’s Museum says it all: “Only children ready for an adventure may enter.” It’s the perfect destination for family outings in Ottawa this summer — as long as you bring your imagination.
Housed in the Museum of Civilization at 100 Laurier in Gatineau, the Children’s Museum caters to kids large and small. From a theatre where kids can try on costumes, masks, and climb on stage, to a ship with an operable crane for loading cargo and a pyramid where you can write your name in hieroglyphics, the interactive exhibits draw tourists and locals alike.
Essentially, the Children’s Museum and its international village is one big excuse to play.
“We grew up going to the Children’s Museum,” says Georgina Hunter, an Ottawa resident who brings daughters Elisha and Isabel regularly.
“Climbing into the pyramid made me feel like I was in Egypt,” adds Elisha, 13.
On a recent weekday, the Bunney family from Oakville, ON, was drawn to one of the most popular attractions.
“I want to drive the bus,” declared four-year-old Jerod, followed by seven-year-old sister Mima. The full-size bus, transported to the Museum from Pakistan, is located right inside the Museum’s entrance.
Jerod’s twin sister Jessica admired the kite she had just made, while 10-year old brother Liam enjoyed trying on owl and tree costumes.
“Our family is a little different — we’re a bit more international than some, so it’s great that the exhibits are from all over the world,” says Dave Bunney, whose youngest three children are adopted from Haiti.
This summer, activities revolve around horses. Families can take guided tours in a horse-drawn carriage, learn horsemanship techniques, greet miniature horses in the Museum’s courtyard, and attend horse-shoe tournaments, horse-sketching workshops, and grooming and tacking demonstrations (see civilization.ca/cmc/canadian-childrens-museum for details). Theme days feature India and Japan, and Taiwan’s Taiyuan Puppet Theatre performs August 5.
The Museum also offers day camps where children can “journey around the world” to Japan, Mexico and India through cooking workshops, crafts, games and performances, from July 19-23, July 26-30, August 9-13 and August 16-20. Camps are geared to ages 6-9, and cost $175/week.
From May 20 to June 19 Dramamuse, the Museum’s theatre company, offers a play depicting the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. From June 25 to August 21, they perform Profit and Ambition: the Canadian Fur Trade, 1779-1821.
Check the website for admission prices ($30 for a family of five), and note that Thursdays after 4 p.m. and on Canada Day, admission is free.
Tips to get the most from your Canadian Museum of Civilization visit
Source: Canadian Museum of Civilization
•Use the floor plan to create an itinerary. Keep your travelling time in mind. Be flexible. Above all, have fun – oh, and don’t forget to pick up your passport when you arrive at the Travel Bureau.
•Ask your child(ren) to lead you through the exhibits. What is she/he looking at? Enjoying?
•Talk! Museums are social places. Share ideas and questions with each other. “When I was a child…”
•Imagine with your child. “What would it be like if…”
•Help your child connect experiences with something in their life. “Remember the bus ride we took downtown?” “Where do we shop for our food?”