After an uncertain future since being closed early 2020, the Biosphere has secured its long-term survival thanks to new funding of $45 million.
The Governments of Canada and Quebec, together with the City of Montreal will each invest $15 million over the next five years. Through this financial support, the Biosphere will also become the fifth museum of the Space for Life museum complex—which comprises the Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden, and Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan.
“The missions of the Biosphere and the other four Space for Life museums naturally converge around environmental concerns,” said Julie Jodoin, Acting Director, Space for Life.
The operation of the museum will be transferred from the Government of Canada to Space for Life, who will become responsible for implementing the Biosphere’s mission “to make visitors aware of climate change, biodiversity conservation, and pollution, particularly plastic waste pollution.” The interactive eco-museum (and the only environment museum in North America) explores themes related to water, climate change, air, eco-technologies, and sustainable development, with an emphasis on the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River regions.
“The Biosphere is an important institution that educates Canadians about climate change and nature conservation. Its mission is directly related to the environmental issues of the day. That is why the Government of Canada is committed to supporting, with its partners, the Biosphere’s ongoing mission through the activities of Space for Life, the largest natural science museum complex in Canada,” said The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The Biosphere will continue to engage the public through programming, guided activities, and exhibitions for all ages. Of the total funding amount, $15 million will be put aside for renovations and maintenance of the Biosphere’s large geodesic dome — which is a familiar landscape silhouette to Montrealers and tourists to the city. The remaining $30 million will be used to organize exhibitions on different themes and attract more visitors.
“A powerful symbol of Montreal since Expo 67, the Biosphere evokes strong feelings in people. This environment museum has a unique mission to educate and raise awareness of environmental issues,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante. “It makes perfect sense for the Biosphere to pursue its activities within the Space for Life family. This investment also reflects our desire to position Montreal as a leader in biodiversity protection and increase the scope of its ecological transition plan. It will ensure this unique space for discovery has a promising future.”
A long history
Designed by Richard Buckminster Fuller, the structure in Parc Jean Drapeau housed the United States pavilion during Expo 67 and was donated to the city of Montreal once the world fair was over. Before a fire in 1976, which destroyed the acrylic panels surrounding the structure, it housed various activities and events and was used as a set for movies and TV. Unused after the fire, it was bought by Environment Canada in 1990 and turned into a museum with a series of enclosed buildings inside the original steel dome.
In an April 12, 2021 press conference, Mayor Plante thanked Julie Jodoin and Space for Life for accelerating the transition of operations over the coming months, and said that the city hopes to reopen the Biosphere this summer.