Ottawa museums offer tons of educational fun for kids

Three museums in our capital city have interactive exhibits and educational workshops for kids of all ages



If you haven’t yet seen the renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum (pictured above), it’s a great excuse to start planning a weekend road trip to Ottawa.

The technology museum reopened last November after three years of renovations to complete an $80-million overhaul of the building (longtime fans will be glad to know they have kept the popular ‘Crazy Kitchen’).

With a giant steam engine, and playable exhibits on sound, the five senses, the history of medicine and more, the museum is full of hands-on activities and creative displays to fascinate curious kids (and parents too). The museum also features a large children’s play area, with games and toys that echo themes from the permanent exhibits. Warning: once the kids discover it you can expect to stay a while …

The Science and Technology Museum is one of three museums under the Ingenium umbrella organization, along with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. All three are well worth a day trip or a visit as part of a mini getaway with the kids.

The Aviation and Space Museum (pictured below) is a treat for history buffs and anyone who likes planes or dreams of going into space. The space exhibits include videos and activities illustrating what life is like in space. As for the airplanes, there are not only planes to see, but also a few that you can climb inside. There are also wooden toy planes kids can scoot around on when they need to burn off some energy. This museum also has a playground outside.

At the Agriculture and Food Museum (pictured below), it’s all about educating kids — and parents — about where their food comes from, and the contributions of Canadian farmers and scientists to improve farming technologies. Kids can sit on tractors, pet bunnies, learn about bugs, and see all kinds of farm animals, from goats and horses to cows and pigs.

For families in the Montreal area who are interested in seeing all three museums, there’s a special discounted membership available that ends up being cheaper than paying the family rate at each place. Ingenium’s Associate Household Membership is exclusively for visitors who live more than 150 kilometres away, and costs $96. At regular family rates, admission to all three museums costs $114.

Families living closer to the Ontario border may need to buy the regular membership, but at $125 per year for a family of six, it’s still a good deal.

But if you’re already a member at the Montreal Science Centre (and you live more than 150-kilometres from Ottawa) admission to all three Ingenium museums may be free, thanks to reciprocal agreements among science centres in North America and around the world. (It is best to check in advance as the website says conditions are subject to change.)

Membership at many science museums includes a reciprocal arrangement with similar museums throughout North America and even overseas. If your  family is planning a vacation this year, it’s worth scanning through the list of places to see if you can score free entry to a partnering museum. ingeniumcanadaorg/membership/reciprocal-admission-agreement.

Notable in November

Nov. 17 marks the one-year anniversary of the reopening of the Canada Science and Technology Museum after its big renovation. There will be a temporary exhibit called Moving Stories that will showcase some of the transportation collection.

From Nov. 3-11, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum will be hosting the Week of Remembrance, featuring printmaking activities for children on both weekends, a special concert on Nov. 4 with the Canadian Armed Forces Central Band and the Governor General Foot Guards Band. On Nov. 18, the museum will also host the Sky High Magic show with master illusionist Chris Pilsworth (It is recommended to buy tickets in advance; $5 adults, $3 kids)

Throughout the month of November, the Canada Food and Agriculture Museum will be celebrating Cheese Month. 

For more details on these and other museum events, visit ingeniumcanada.org/events/calendar.

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