Victoria Memorial Museum (renamed the Canadian Museum of Nature)
Ottawa, Ontario
Public Works And Government Services Canada (PWGSC)
This massive stone structure was completed in 1912 and is an excellent example of early 20th-century architecture in Ottawa. It was designed by architect David Ewart who is responsible for many similar structures around the city. The construction of the building involved the importing of 300 skilled stonemasons from Scotland. The architectural style is sometimes described as Scottish baronial. Ewart was sent to Britain to study the architecture of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle, which greatly influenced his design of this building.

In 1968, the National Museum that occupied the building was split into the National Museum of Natural Sciences (eventually renamed the Canadian Museum of Nature) and the National Museum of Man (eventually renamed the Canadian Museum of Civilization), although both entities continued to share the same edifice. In 1989, the Canadian Museum of Civilization moved to a new location in Gatineau, Quebec and the Canadian Museum of Nature was able to occupy the entire Victoria Memorial Museum Building.

Soon after the National Museum of Natural Science and the National Museum of Man were co-located at the Victoria Memorial museum, our firm, based on its heritage restoration experience, was retained to restore the building allowing it to be used as a modern day museum. The restoration included the design of 16 halls in various wings of the building. The entrance and lobby were also fully restored. The building’s interiors were re-designed to comply with modern day building and fire codes, which was a requirement to allow general public access.

The entire exterior of the building was redesigned to be in compliance with rain screen principals, which included the treatment of the windows to impede UV penetration on the exhibits. This treatment was achieved while preserving the original aesthetics of the building. All HVAC systems were upgraded to maintain climate control suitable to allow the preservation of valuable exhibits enabling their introduction to the museum.

The Victoria Memorial Museum building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.

The building has since been renovated again and stands today as the Canadian Museum of Nature – one of Ottawa’s most prominent museums.

© Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates Architects Inc. All Rights Reserved

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