Ottawa’s Best Museums You Can Visit for Free

9 of Ottawa’s Best Museums You Can Visit for Free

Of the many things I love about Ottawa, its vast selection of museums is near the top of my list. As someone who loves to travel and explore, I’ve learned so much history regarding my city and home country thanks to these awesome facilities.

But that’s not the only thing that makes these exhibitions such nice places to visit. Did you know that a few of them offer free admission? 

This article will tackle several great museums that you can enter completely without paying a single dime. So get ready to do some exploring! 

Museums with Free Entrance the Entire Week

These are some museums worth visiting that are 100% free throughout the entire week. 

Bank of Canada Museum

Website: https://www.bankofcanadamuseum.ca/

Address:  30 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G9, Canada

Contact details: 613-782-8914

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Thursday-Sunday: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

Ever wanted to take a deep dive into the history of money? Then the Bank of Canada Museum (BOCM) is here to give you an in-depth look!

It gives you an interesting way to see how intriguing the world of money and business is, as well as the bank’s bigger role in the country’s growth.

The museum has exhibits that have been designed to be interactive, allowing people of all ages to learn about complex economic ideas in a way that is fun and easy to understand.

So if you’re interested in the history of money or have a curiosity about fiat currency in general, you’re in for a treat! 

To further hook you in, the museum offers a few things beyond dry facts and figures. It also brings the past to life through awesome displays and various media.

You can see the full evolution of Canadian currency as well as the economic milestones that played a vital role in shaping our nation. The stories are told in a way that is sure to resonate with you.

The BOCM takes full advantage of multimedia, allowing you to engage with interactive displays and listen to captivating stories throughout your tour. 

In addition to its informative exhibits, the museum often hosts special events, lectures, and workshops that delve deeper into economic topics, making it a dynamic and evolving cultural hub.

Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum

Website: https://ingeniumcanada.org/agriculture

Address: 901 Prince of Wales Dr, Ottawa, ON K2C 3K1, Canada

Contact details: 613-991-3044

Operating hours: 

  • Wednesday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

The Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum is the go-to location for anyone who wants to expand their know-how on the agricultural scene in the country. It’s well-known for its unique way of presenting the past and present development of farming in Canada.

The building itself is designed to be both educational and fun, which makes it a great place to visit for families, students, and anyone interested in the agriculture history of the nation.

Here, you can get a closer look at the early days of farming up to the modern agri-food industry. It’s a truly captivating journey through time as you see firsthand the evolution of our country’s cultivation industry. 

To make things even more exciting, there are a ton of awesome exhibits that you can use in the facility. Interactive displays, hands-on activities, and live demos are available, so you can have fun while learning. 

This also makes it very accessible to younger audiences, ensuring everyone has a memorable time regardless of age.

Further adding to the museum’s uniqueness is its focus on the entire food production process. You get a very detailed look at the whole thing, from the planting, harvesting, and processing, all the way to the distribution of the foodstuffs throughout the country.

What’s great about this deep dive is that it not only serves to educate us but also gives us a more profound appreciation of Canada’s wide range of delicious foods.

This holistic perspective sets the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum apart, offering a comprehensive exploration of the field.

Additionally, the site frequently hosts unique events and seasonal activities. This adds a ton of excitement for people who wish to revisit the farm sometime in the future. 

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Website: https://ingeniumcanada.org/scitech

Address: Scientique, 1867 St. Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, ON K1G 5A3, Canada

Contact details: 613-235-7053

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Plenty of locals and tourists know the Canadian Science and Technology Museum (CSTM) (museum of science and technology ottawa) for its amazing interactive exhibits. 

When you head to this building, get ready to do some hands-on tasks and interact with the cool displays that you can find there. 

Each one of the exhibits is meant to make complex scientific ideas fun and easy to understand. This gives it better accessibility for people of all ages.

This engaging feature makes learning about the different ideas that rule our universe a memorable experience. 

As you explore the halls, you can find displays on things such as space travel, communication, evolution, and the history of transportation and how it has changed over the years. 

Needless to say, there’s something for everyone at the museum, as it covers a wide range of topics. Of course, the displays weren’t placed in the CSTM just for the sake of it. 

Each one was carefully chosen to represent the country’s role in advancing science and technology. It is also a means of showing that the country’s minds are capable of competing on a global scale.  

That’s not all, of course. To go along with its mission of educating the public on the sciences, the CSTM boasts a visually striking building. 

The modern and pleasant design makes it possible to explore the amazing world of science in a lively manner. Thanks to its location in the heart of Ottawa, accessibility is not a problem for anyone who wishes to visit the facility. 

To add to that, the museum frequently hosts special events. You can take part in fun workshops and interactive programs, adding an extra layer of excitement to the overall experience. 

There’s always something interesting for us to do in the CSTM, like a science-themed fair, a guest lecture by a famous scientist, or a hands-on workshop for kids.

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Website: https://ingeniumcanada.org/aviation

Address: 11 Aviation Pkwy, Ottawa, ON K1K 2X5, Canada

Contact details: 613-991-3044

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Thursday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

When it comes to planes and spacecraft, the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum stands at the top. 

Thanks to its vast collection of airplanes, spaceships, and other artifacts, this is a great place to learn about Canada’s history with the skies and outer space.

Here, you can find exhibits that go into extensive detail about the first planes and the early pioneering flights that kickstarted our flight technology. It also includes the latest developments in aeronautical science.

The impressive array of aircraft on display, including historic airplanes, military jets, and even space capsules, provides a captivating journey through the milestones of Canadian aviation and cosmic achievements.

Additionally, the museum also encourages you to interact with the exhibits, which adds to the excitement of your stay.

Instead of just watching the displays, you can do things like connect with flight simulators, displays, and hands-on activities that bring the excitement of flying and space exploration to life. 

It places you in the shoes of the pilots and makes the whole experience more memorable. This interactive aspect of the museum not only makes it informative but also allows everyone to have fun at the same time.

The site’s location and ample outdoor space make it the perfect venue for hosting airshows and special events, adding to its allure.

Now if you truly want to get a deep dive into aeronautics, then make sure to attend the museum’s educational programs, workshops, and special events.

This is your best chance to learn more complex terms not usually seen in the exhibits and expand your understanding of aviation and space even further.

Watson’s Mill

Website: https://watsonsmill.com/

Address: 5525 Dickinson St, Manotick, ON K4M 1A2, Canada

Contact details: 613-692-6455

Operating hours: 

  • Seasonal, open on select days from 10:00 AM–4:00 PM

Of Ottawa’s many museums, Watson’s Mill is a rather unique one. It’s a hidden gem that captures the history and charm of the area, giving you an enriching experience unlike any other. 

Its beautiful setting, with numerous trees and old buildings all around it, provides a calm atmosphere that takes people back in time. This adds to the factory’s allure and makes it the perfect place to get away from the stress of modern life.

The mill itself is a living reminder of Ottawa’s industrial past. It shows how milling technology from the 1800s was important to the growth of the city and its role in shaping the capital into what it is today. 

If you want to explore more of the area, you can find a gristmill and sawmill that are still operational. Each one gives visitors a different chance to see the machines at work and get a hands-on, immersive experience with the milling process. 

The plant’s rich past, combined with the preservation of the original architecture, contributes to an authentic and evocative tour. Because of this, great effort has been put into the building’s restoration efforts. 

The guided tours are led by the mill’s staff, a wise and passionate group of individuals. They will tell you about the site’s importance in Canadian history and how it played a part in the growth of the region.

Now, if you want to take some photos, you can head to the nearby village of Manotick. This is a picturesque location that adds an extra layer of charm to the visit, made all the more convenient thanks to its closeness to the mill.

The quaint streets lined with heritage buildings and the adjacent Dickinson Square create a delightful ambiance. This setting invites you to explore the local history beyond the foundry itself. 

And the cherry on top? Watson’s Mill is near the famous Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

It adds to the overall appeal of the place, making the factory an integral part of the historical tapestry of the area.

If you’re planning to visit the mill, make sure to check out its website to see which days it’ll be open. 

Museums with Free Admission on Select Days

The following museums also offer free admission, but they only do so on select days. Here are a few that I recommend you visit. 

National Gallery of Canada

Website: https://www.gallery.ca/

Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada

Contact details: 613-990-1985

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday, 5:00 PM–8:00 PM

The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa is a cultural haven. It stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of art and creativity in the country and is a sanctuary for fans of the medium. 

What truly sets this museum apart is its unique and extensive collection of works from all around the world. Each one provides you with a captivating journey through the realms of Canadian and international art. 

An interesting detail about the gallery is its dedication to showing how Canadian artworks have changed over time. It gives you a full picture of the country’s artistic history, from the famous Group of Seven to modern Indigenous works.

You also don’t want to miss the National Gallery, which has wonders from different continents and time periods. The wide range of art in the collection includes classics from Europe and Asia, as well as newer pieces from all over the world. 

This global view makes sure that you get to see a large variety of artistic movements and styles, which makes the experience more meaningful and immersive.

Besides that, the facility is also a lively center for culture. Special exhibitions, training programs, and cultural events are held at the museum all the time, making Ottawa’s art scene more energetic. 

And let’s not forget the architectural brilliance of the National Gallery. It is another one of its many distinct features and was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie who made sure that the building itself would be a work of art as well.

When you look at both the interior and exterior of the museum, you’ll find yourself admiring the way the glass and granite work together. It gives it a striking look that mixes well with the surrounding scenery. 

Plus, the gallery is situated in a way that lets you enjoy stunning views of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. It adds an extra layer of charm to the overall experience, making it not just a museum but a visual spectacle.

Canadian Museum of Nature

Website: https://nature.ca/en/

Address: 240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1, Canada

Contact details: 800-263-4433

Operating hours: 

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 9:30 AM–4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:30 AM–8:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday, 5:00 PM–8:00 PM, Earth Day

The Canadian Museum of Nature is simply a fascinating place to visit. Like many other museums in the capital, it combines learning and fun in a way that works well and appeals to people of all ages. 

One of the best things about the site is its architecture. The historic Victoria Memorial Museum Building, with its castle-like aesthetic, gives you a sense of grandeur while touring the place. 

The blend of old-world architecture with modern exhibits creates an inviting atmosphere that sets the stage for exploration.

Another great thing about the museum is that it covers a lot of different areas of natural history. It has a huge number of displays, ranging from fossils from prehistoric times to modern biodiversity. 

The famous “Water Gallery” is an amazing underwater world that shows marine life in a constantly changing and interesting fashion. By focusing on aquatic environments, the facility shows its commitment to showing nature in all its forms.

For those fascinated by Earth’s ancient past, the museum’s fossil gallery is a treasure trove of information. 

From the massive dinosaurs that used to roam the earth to the tiny organisms that shaped our world, the exhibits take you on a journey through time and bring the amazing things that paleontologists study to life. 

All of this is made even more engaging thanks to the building’s emphasis on hands-on learning experiences. Pretty much every exhibit has touchable specimens and interactive displays for you to marvel at. 

When it comes to scientific research and education, the Canadian Museum of Nature stands as one of the country’s top leaders in this area. It gladly serves as a hub for discovery.

As you tour the facility, you can expect to find scientists who actively conduct research within its walls. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at their fascinating work that contributes greatly to expanding our understanding of the natural world.

Adding to that, the museum also regularly hosts special events. These include workshops, seminars, and educational programs that cater to different fields of science. 

Canadian Museum of History

Website: https://www.historymuseum.ca/

Address: 100 Laurier St, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M8, Canada

Contact details: 819-776-7000

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday, 5:00 PM–8:00 PM

The Canadian Museum of History is a cultural gem that stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of the nation’s past. What makes this place stand out are the unique ways it combines history, art, and hands-on displays into one interesting experience. 

Just by looking at the carefully curated exhibits alone, you can see the museum’s commitment to presenting the diverse stories of Canada. 

One such exhibit is the Indigenous Peoples Hall. When you explore this part of the facility, you will be able to witness some of the greatest highlights of their rich culture as well as the chronicles of Canada’s First Nations, the Métis, and the Inuit.

Then there’s the Canadian History Hall, which talks about important events and turning points in the country’s story. There is a plaque at each show that tells a full and inclusive story of Canada’s past. 

As you go deeper into the museum, you will come across a few thematic galleries. These ensure that you and other visitors gain a nuanced understanding of the various facets that have shaped the country.

Since the Canadian Museum of History is a modern facility, it has more than just standard displays. Technology and interactive shows are used in creative ways to make an experience you will never forget.

An example of this is the Grand Hall, which features iconic totem poles and a life-sized replica of a 19th-century trading post. It’s a truly fascinating display that makes you feel like you’re in the land of the natives, back in a bygone era.

The building hasn’t forgotten about the younger guests, of course. The Children’s Museum caters specifically to kids and teens and pushes them to explore and play with their hands, which makes them love learning about the past.

An additional unique aspect is the facility’s commitment to hosting special exhibitions that delve into specific aspects of Canada’s history and culture. 

Another thing that makes the museum stand out is its unique displays. 

Often, these temporary exhibits feature artifacts, works of art, and stories that give plenty of information about certain eras or subject matters. 

And finally, the museum’s prime location in the heart of the capital makes it an even more appealing destination. 

The stunning views of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River from the location’s vantage point create a picturesque setting that enhances the overall visitor experience. 

When you’re done touring the building and its many exhibits, you can take breathtaking photos of the surrounding picturesque landscape.  

Canadian War Museum

Website: https://visit.parl.ca/sites/Visit/default/en_CA

Address: 1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8, Canada

Contact details: 800-555-5621

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday, 5:00 PM–7:00 PM

When you visit the Canadian War Museum, you will have a powerful and moving experience. The facility is a big and touching tribute to Canada’s military past and honors the achievements of our brave countrymen. 

One thing that makes it stand out is its beautiful architecture, which is a mix of current style and historical symbolism. 

With its sharp edges and symbolic use of materials, the building itself serves as a strong background for the interesting stories that its exhibits tell its visitors.

The CWM covers a wide range of military conflicts that happened throughout the country’s history. Some of these include early battles between Native Americans and Europeans and modern missions to keep the peace. 

Its galleries take you on a thought-provoking trip through time to show how war has affected people, groups, and the nation as a whole. 

A neat feature of the site is its dedication to presenting all the diverse perspectives that participated in these important events. 

You can read and hear accounts of Indigenous people and other marginalized groups to learn how the many conflicts impacted their lives. It adds a great touch of depth and inclusivity to the whole thing.

When exploring outside the museum, you will likely come across one of its more unique features: the Vimy Place Memorial. 

It contains the iconic Vimy Memorial statue and pays tribute to the Canadian Corps’ victory at Vimy Ridge during World War I, offering a solemn reflection point for visitors. 

This integration of outdoor elements enhances the overall experience. It ends up creating a connection between the museum and the broader historical landscape.

Now if you’re a fan of multimedia exhibits, then you will love some of the facility’s offerings.

For example, the LeBreton Gallery has a great collection of army trucks, artillery, and planes. Multimedia displays that give background information and personal stories add more depth to the gallery. 

These interactive features let you explore military history in a variety of ways, which helps you feel a deeper connection to the topic.

To add to that, the museum actively engages with visitors through special exhibitions, events, and educational programs. 

Temporary exhibits are available, and they often delve into specific aspects of military history. These present artifacts and stories that offer fresh perspectives on familiar narratives to tell you a side of the wars and conflicts that you’ve never heard of. 

To top things off, the museum has a strong commitment to ongoing research. This solidifies its role as a dynamic and evolving institution that plays a major role in documenting the service of Canada’s army.