Canadian Museum of Nature opens new Arctic Gallery

Beyond Ice
A woman walks past "Beyond Ice" which is the opening part of the new gallery. (Photo by Ryan Tumilty / Metro)

Ottawa residents can gain a new window into a rapidly changing Arctic through the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new gallery focused on the North, which opens Wednesday.

The 8,000-square-foot gallery features interactive exhibits, animals and fashion from Northern communities in a completely renovated space. The museum also paired with the National Film Board on an art installation that features scenes from the Arctic projected onto sheets of ice.  

Dr. Jeff Saarela, director of the museum’s Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration, said the exhibit is designed to focus on as much of the Arctic as possible.

“We have tried to teach people about the Arctic from all those different angles,” he said.

He said few Canadians will ever visit the Arctic, so it’s important that the gallery show more than just the animals or geological history.

“The Arctic is like 40 per cent of Canada. It’s a huge part of our country and most people don’t think about it,” Saarela said.

He said climate change is a major factor in Northern life and that the exhibit works to reflect that impact.

“The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of planet …  and that’s caused substantial changes,” he said.
 

The museum worked with Inuit and Dene communities on the exhibit to make sure they were accurately telling the stories of the people who live there.

Caitlyn Baikie, who represents Inuit communities on the museum’s advisory board, said the museum has done a wonderful job representing Arctic communities.

“It doesn’t just teach you about the ecosystem of the North, which I think is the lesson behind it, but it’s about how do you eat in the North. How do you eat healthy in the North,” she said.

She said the exhibit does a good job showing people what life is like above the 60th parallel, but to truly understand it people should take the trip.  

“You get an idea of what life is like in the Arctic, what’s important to the Arctic, but not without actually visiting there does it truly make sense.”

This article originally appeared in Metro News.