Sunday, July 4, 2010

Museums Marathon in Ottawa

None of Ottawa’s Museums charges admission fees on Canada Day.

I used the opportunity to visit some of them:

- Museum for Agriculture
- Civilization Museum
- National Gallery

I had always admired the historic buildings of the huge “Farm”, located close to downtown Ottawa, including the beautiful surrounding gardens.
But inside the agriculture buildings was the same pitiful treatment of farm animals that I dislike so much when visiting commercial farms. The cows are chained tightly (two feet chains) in order to prevent movements. For me it is a shame how animals are kept that are feeding us! No thanks, I could not take this sight and left very quickly.

The next museum visit was a more enjoyable. At the CIVILIZATION MUSEUM I bumped into a Citizenship Ceremony and face to face with Minister Jason Kenney who helped to cut the Canada Day Cake for new Canadians and visitors (see images). He was accompanied by the judge who took the oaths, a military member, a First Nation elder and the inevitable “Mounty” who was busy at popular photo ops, especially with south Asian visitors.

My favoured permanent exhibitions at this museum are:
Canada Hall
It displays a remarkable journey through one thousand years of Canada's social history, from east to west.
First Peoples Hall
It highlights the cultural, historical and artistic achievements of Canada's First Peoples.
Native Hall
Six Native houses, connected by a Pacific coast shoreline and boardwalk, portray the rich cultural history of the western First Peoples.
But there is more to see: the Post Museum, Children’s Museum, the Imax Cinema and a variety of changing exhibitions.

Then I paid a visit to the NATIONAL GALLERY with its outstanding architecture by Moshe Safdie and the famous “Spider” artwork on the surrounding plaza. Some of the paintings of the “Group of Seven”, including Emily Carr, Canada’s most famous artists that are not shown in the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, ON, are displayed here.

Although its focus is on Canadian art including Inuit and First Nation artifacts, it displays works by many noted European artists, such as Rubens, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Chagall, Matisse, Picasso and Rembrandt. It has a strong contemporary art collection with some of Andy Warhol's most famous works.

What I missed, but will visit next time when I am in Ottawa:
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum

The AVIATION MUSEUM is among the best places to celebrate Canada Day, to see the exhibitions and pick nick at the grounds. From there it is also a short hop to the Rockcliffe Flying Club who offers a Canada Day Breakfast and sightseeing flights in a Waco UPF-7, an open cockpit biplane from 1939.
There is also a Beaver float plane flight offer to enjoy an amazing bird’s-eye view of the National Capital.

Ottawa is always worth a visit, not only on Canada Day.