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‘Castle’ ready to show off treasures

After six years and $216 million, the museum known informally as “the castle” is finally reopening its doors to the public Saturday.

After six years and $216 million, the museum known informally as “the castle” is finally reopening its doors to the public Saturday.

And when it does, the newly renovated, state-of-the-art Canadian Museum of Nature will feature two new signature galleries, as well as a whole new look.

“We now have a fully modern natural science museum housed in a significant national historic site,” Joanne DiCosimo, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature, said yesterday. “Canada now has a fitting national museum showcase to illustrate and engage the public in the extraordinary variety and complexity of our unique natural environment.”

The expanded space, which features a multi-storey glass lantern, will allow the museum to show more of its 10.6 million artifacts.

The RBC Blue Water Gallery — one of the two new signature galleries — with its centrepiece, a complete 20-metre skeleton of an adolescent blue whale, “gives a snapshot of life in Canada’s marine water,” said Judith Price with the museum.

The new museum’s standard environmental controls make it possible to display the whale safely for the first time, said DiCosimo.

The new Vale Earth Gallery features more than 1,000 rocks and minerals, more than half of which have never been displayed publicly.

The museum has also developed a new space, Animalium, which features a live collection of insects, arachnids and slugs.

The 100-year-old building was essentially demolished from the inside and rebuilt and restored, said Maureen Dougan, vice-president and COO of the museum.

The project had a few objectives, including upgrading the 100-year-old structure to meet modern building and seismic codes, as well as improving the museum’s environmental codes, amenities and programming spaces, and to restore heritage components.

Celebratory events are planned for the long weekend, including a public unveiling ceremony Saturday, when admission is free all day.