10 of Ottawa’s Most Exciting Museums You Can Visit

10 of Ottawa’s Most Exciting Museums You Can Visit

Fun fact: did you know that Ottawa has over 70 museums if you count both the national and private facilities? Pretty awesome, right? 

It goes without saying that we Ottawans are able to indulge in so many fascinating places that each specialize in different parts of our city’s culture. It’s just one of the many things that I love about the capital. 

Now that we’re talking about museums, let me list 10 of the best ones that you can visit. It’s guaranteed to give you an incredible experience, so let’s take a closer look, shall we? 

National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada

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

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

Contact number: +1 613-990-1985

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Entrance fee:

  • Adults: $20
  • Adults 65+ (Proof of age required): $18
  • 24 and under / Students (Proof of age or ID required): $10
  • Families (2 adults & 3 youths age 17 and under): $40
  • Children (Age 11 and under): Free

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Wedneday, Friday, Sunday: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM–8:00 PM

The National Gallery boasts an unparalleled collection of Canadian and international art that’ll leave you awe-inspired. 

Inside those walls, you’ll find everything from the iconic works of the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, and Tom Thomson to remarkable pieces by European masters like Rembrandt, Monet, and Picasso. 

It’s akin to taking a journey through the history of art right in our own backyard.

But it’s not just about the artwork itself. The architecture of the building is a masterpiece in its own right. 

The stunning glass facade, known as the Great Hall, gives you an incredible view of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River. It’s a picture-perfect spot for a selfie or two!

The National Gallery also knows how to keep things fresh. It hosts temporary exhibitions that cover a wide range of artistic styles and eras, so there’s always something new to see. 

Whether you’re into contemporary art, photography, or Indigenous works, you will be pleased by the different pieces available.

Now, let’s talk about the experience. The Gallery offers interactive activities for visitors of all ages. 

From workshops and lectures to guided tours and family programs, there’s something for everyone to engage with the art on a deeper level. It’s not just a place to look at paintings; it’s a place to connect with the craft in a meaningful way.

And don’t even get me started on the National Gallery’s commitment to accessibility. It’s made sure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy the art and the beautiful surroundings. 

Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of History

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

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

Contact number: +1 819-776-7000

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Entrance fee: 

  • Adult Admission (18 to 64 years old):$22.00
  • Senior Admission (65 years old and up): $20.00
  • Student Admission (13 to 17 years old; 18 years and up with valid student ID): $17.00
  • Child Admission (2 to 12 years old): $15.00
  • Infant Admission (under 2 years old): Free

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Sunday (Except Thursdays): 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM

The Canadian Museum of History is one of Ottawa’s top-notch attractions thanks to a variety of reasons. 

First off, the architecture of the facility is nothing short of iconic. You can’t miss it when you’re crossing the Ottawa River into Gatineau, Quebec. 

That grand entrance and the stunning Grand Hall inside—it’s like stepping into a palace dedicated to Canada’s history. It’s an experience in itself just to wander through the building and take in the sheer scale of it all.

But let’s get to the good stuff—the exhibits. The museum takes you on a journey through our country’s past like no other place can. 

You’ll find yourself immersed in the rich tapestry of Canada’s history. You’ll be introduced to the Indigenous peoples who first called this land home and to the European explorers, the fur traders, and the pioneers who shaped our nation.

One of the highlights for many visitors is the First Peoples Hall. It’s a powerful and respectful exploration of Indigenous cultures in Canada, showcasing their traditions, art, and history. 

The attention to detail and the care with which these exhibits are presented is truly commendable.

And here’s the thing—the museum doesn’t just throw artifacts at you. It tells stories. 

It uses immersive displays, multimedia, and interactive elements to make history come alive. You’ll feel like you’re walking through different eras, from the fur trade days to Confederation and beyond.

The special exhibitions are always a treat. They cover a wide range of topics, so you never know what fascinating stories you’ll encounter when you visit. 

Whether it’s an in-depth look at a historical figure, a deep dive into a particular time period, or a unique cultural display, these exhibitions keep things fresh and exciting.

If you’re visiting with little ones, the Children’s Museum is a godsend. It puts emphasis on hands-on learning and play, making history fun and accessible for kids of all ages.

Lastly, the museum offers breathtaking views of Parliament Hill and downtown Ottawa from across the river. It’s a fantastic spot for photos, and it’s especially magical during the evening when the city lights up.

Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

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

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

Contact number: +1 800-263-4433

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Entrance fee: 

  • General admission: Free
  • Special exhibitions:
  • Adult: $27.50
  • Senior (65+): $22.50
  • Tiny Tot (0–2): Free
  • Child (3–12): $20.50
  • Student (13–17): $22.50
  • Student (18+): $22.50

Operating hours: 

  • Monday-Sunday (except Thursday): 9:30 AM–4:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:30 AM–8 PM

The Canadian Museum of Nature is a castle-like structure nestled in the heart of downtown Ottawa. I mean, you can’t miss it! 

The architecture alone is worth the visit, and it gives you a hint of the wonder that lies inside.

Now, when you step through those doors, you’re in for a treat. The Canadian Museum of Nature is all about showcasing the incredible biodiversity of Canada and the world. 

The exhibits are like stepping into different ecosystems, from the depths of the ocean to the heights of the Arctic. It’s a journey through nature that’ll leave you in awe.

One of the showstoppers is the dinosaur gallery. The collection includes some impressive fossils, and there’s even a full-sized skeleton of a massive Barosaurus that’s sure to wow both kids and adults.

Speaking of children, the location has a fantastic family-friendly atmosphere. The Nature Nocturne events are a blast for adults, and the interactive displays throughout the museum make it a hit with the little ones. 

There’s even a “Nature Live” area where kids can get up close and personal with live insects and reptiles. It’s both educational and fun, and that’s a winning combo.

But it’s not just about ancient creatures and creepy crawlies. The Canadian Museum of Nature has an amazing gallery dedicated to minerals and gemstones. 

I can’t tell you how impressive it is to see those shimmering gems up close. It’s like stepping into a treasure trove.

Oh, and the special exhibitions? They’re always top-notch. 

From deep dives into specific animal species to explorations of climate change and environmental issues, they keep things fresh and relevant.

The museum is also committed to conservation and education. It is involved in important research and conservation efforts, and it does a fantastic job of raising awareness about the natural world and the need to protect it.

And, of course, the museum has a great gift shop. You can pick up some unique and nature-themed souvenirs to remember your visit.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Canada Aviation and Space Museum

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

Website: https://ingeniumcanada.org/aviation 

Contact number: +1 613-991-3044

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Entrance fee:

  • Adult (18 years old +): $18.36
  • Senior (60 and over): $15.82
  • Student (18 years old + with valid ID): $15.82
  • Youth (3 to 17 years old): $12.43

Operating hours: 

  • Thursday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is a paradise for aeronautic enthusiasts and cosmic buffs. You can’t help but be impressed by the sheer number of aircraft and artifacts on display. 

From historic biplanes to modern fighter jets, it’s got it all. It’s like a playground for anyone who’s ever looked up at the sky and dreamed of flight.

But it’s not just about the aircraft themselves; it’s the stories they tell. The museum does an outstanding job of bringing history to life. 

You can learn about the daring pilots who broke records, the pioneers who pushed the boundaries of aviation, and the astronauts who ventured into the cosmos. The exhibits will also take you on a journey through the evolution of flight and space exploration.

One of the coolest things is the chance to get up close and personal with many of the aircraft here. 

You can walk right under the wings of a massive Lancaster bomber or step inside a replica of the Avro Arrow, one of Canada’s most iconic aviation projects. It’s a hands-on experience that makes you feel like a part of history.

And if you’re into stuff like ships and other equipment used by astronauts, you’re in for a treat. The space gallery is out of this world (pun intended). 

You’ll find actual ships that have been on missions to other planets, including the Canadarm, which played a crucial role in the Space Shuttle program. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about Canada’s contributions to the exploration of our solar system.

For families, the museum has interactive exhibits that make learning about flight and space a blast for kids of all ages. 

And if you visit during the summer, you might even catch a live airshow, which is an absolute thrill.

Now, here’s a little insider tip: make sure to check out the restoration area. It’s where the museum staff work on restoring and preserving aircraft, and you can watch the skilled craftsmen at work. 

It’s a unique behind-the-scenes look at the facility’s dedication to preserving our aviation heritage.

The facility is situated right next to the Ottawa River, which means you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront before or after your visit. 

It’s a great spot for photos, especially with the iconic Canada Aviation and Space Museum sign in the background.

Canadian War Museum

Canadian War Museum

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

Website: https://www.warmuseum.ca/

Contact number: +1 800-555-5621

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Entrance fee: 

  • Adult Admission (18 to 64 years old): $20.00
  • Senior Admission (65 years old and up): $18.00
  • Student Admission (13 to 17 years old; 18 years and up with valid student ID): $15.00
  • Child Admission (2 to 12 years old): $13.00
  • Infant Admission (under 2 years old): $0.00
  • Family Admission (Up to 6 people with 2 adults): $50

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Sunday (Except Thursdays): 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM

When it comes to storytelling, the Canadian War Museum does an exceptional job of bringing history to life. 

When you walk through those doors, you’re not just looking at artifacts; you’re stepping into the past. From the World Wars to peacekeeping missions and conflicts around the globe, the museum covers Canada’s military history comprehensively.

The artifacts on display are nothing short of incredible. Tanks, artillery, uniforms, and personal belongings from soldiers—these items tell the stories of the people who served our country. 

You’ll find iconic pieces like the Vimy Ridge memorial sculpture and the famous Lysander aircraft that participated in secret missions during WWII. It’s awe-inspiring to see these items up close.

But if you ask me, the greatest thing about the facility is its commitment to showing us the human side of war. The personal stories, letters, and diaries on display give you a glimpse into the lives of those who served and the sacrifices they made. 

This not only gives us an important lesson on history, but it also gives us a deeply moving and emotional experience.

Now, let’s talk about the architecture of the museum. This is another reason why it’s such a standout among Ottawa’s attractions. 

The moment you lay eyes on it, you can already tell that it is a work of art, with its stunning design and striking use of copper and glass. 

The combination of modern architecture with historical artifacts creates a unique and immersive environment.

The special exhibitions at the Canadian War Museum are consistently top-notch. They cover a wide range of topics related to conflict, providing fresh perspectives and insights into our history. 

Whether it’s an exhibit on a specific battle, the role of women in wartime, or the impact of war on art, there’s always something thought-provoking to see.

The museum also pays homage to peacekeepers, showcasing Canada’s role in international peacekeeping missions. It’s a testament to our country’s commitment to making the world a better place.

And here’s the thing—it’s not just a place for history buffs. The Canadian War Museum offers engaging and interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. 

Kids and families will find plenty to see and do, making it an educational and family-friendly destination.

Bank of Canada Museum

Bank of Canada Museum

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

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

Contact number: +1 613-782-8914

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Entrance fee:

  • Free! 

Operating hours: 

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

The Bank of Canada Museum is an interesting one, let me tell you that. 

What makes it so special is its unique focus. It’s all about the history of money, banking, and the essential role of our central bank in shaping Canada’s financial landscape. 

That alone sets it apart from the rest of Ottawa’s museums.

Now, picture this: a historic building that was once the bustling banking hall of the Bank of Canada. Its architecture alone is a sight to behold, with a blend of grandeur and charm that adds to the overall ambiance of the museum.

Moving on, let’s talk about the ways you can learn in this facility. It’s designed the exhibits to be engaging for visitors of all ages. 

You can roll up your sleeves and dive right into the world of money through interactive displays, games, and simulations. 

As you explore, you’ll discover a treasure trove of rare and historic artifacts. You’ll get to see old banknotes, coins, and even displays of counterfeit currency. 

It feels like you witness in real time how Canada’s coins and bills evolved into what it is today.

The museum offers programs and workshops, making it an excellent choice for school groups and anyone eager to dive deeper into the intricacies of economics and finance.

To add to that, the facility regularly updates its exhibits to ensure there’s always something new to discover. So even if you’ve been before, you can bet there’s something exciting to see on your next visit.

The museum’s central location in downtown Ottawa makes it a breeze to visit alongside other iconic attractions. 

Its proximity to signature locations like Parliament Hill and the lively Byward Market allows for another convenient addition to your itinerary. 

Now, here’s the cherry on top—it’s free! That’s right; admission won’t cost you a dime. 

So, whether you’re a curious local or a budget-conscious traveler, the Bank of Canada Museum is a fantastic and accessible option.

Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

Diefenbunker Canada's Cold War Museum

Location: 3929 Carp Rd, Ottawa, ON K0A 1L0, Canada

Website: https://diefenbunker.ca/en/

Contact number: +1 613-839-0007

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Entrance fee: 

  • General admission (self-guided tour)
  • Adult (18+): $18.00
  • Senior (60+):  $16.50
  • Student (18+): $13.50
  • Youth (6–17): $11.50
  • Family Rate (2 Adults, 5 Youth): $49.00
  • Child 5 and under: Free
  • General admission (guided tour)
  • Adult (18+): $18.50
  • Senior (60+):  $17.00
  • Student (18+): $14.00
  • Youth (6–17): $12.00
  • Family Rate (2 Adults, 5 Youth): $49.50
  • Child 5 and under: Free

Operating hours: 

  • Wednesday-Friday: 10:00 AM–4:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM–3:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM–3:00 PM

The Diefenbunker is no ordinary museum—it’s an actual Cold War-era bunker that was built to withstand a nuclear attack! 

Just knowing that you’re standing inside this massive underground structure, which was once a top-secret government facility, is a surreal experience.

The bunker takes you back to the tense days of the Cold War. It’s like riding a time machine to the 1960s, complete with authentic artifacts and equipment. 

You’ll see everything from the Prime Minister’s suite to the emergency broadcast studio, all preserved in meticulous detail.

The museum offers guided tours that provide fascinating insights into the bunker’s purpose and operation. 

You’ll learn about the government’s contingency plans and how they would have responded to a nuclear threat. It’s a real eye-opener.

Now what really makes the Deifenbunker special is its ability to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a different era. 

As you wander through the declassified rooms and corridors, you can’t help but feel the tension of the Cold War and the stark reality of the times. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking journey.

Plus, the bunker hosts special events and exhibitions that explore various aspects of the Cold War, espionage, and even pop culture from that era. It keeps things fresh and offers something new for both first-time visitors and repeat guests.

For families, it’s an excellent educational experience. Kids can get a glimpse into a pivotal period in history, and they often have interactive activities and workshops to engage young minds.

The location is also a unique feature. The Diefenbunker is situated in the picturesque village of Carp, just a short drive from downtown Ottawa. 

It’s a bit off the beaten path, but that only adds to its allure. You can enjoy the scenic countryside before or after your visit.

Bytown Museum

Bytown Museum

Location: 1 Canal Ln, Ottawa, ON K1P 5P6, Canada

Website: http://bytownmuseum.com/

Contact number: +1 613-234-4570

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Entrance fee:

  • Adult: $8
  • Seniors/Students: $5
  • Children under 12: $2
  • Children under 3: $Free
  • Family: $18 (includes 2 adults plus children under 18)

Operating hours: 

  • Friday-Sunday: 10:00 AM–4:00  PM

The Bytown Museum is like a time capsule, taking us back to the early days of our city when it was simply known as ‘Bytown.’ It’s a captivating journey through Ottawa’s roots, from its humble beginnings as a lumber town to its transformation into Canada’s capital.

The museum is nestled right on the Rideau Canal, which is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It is housed in a historic stone building that was once a treasury, adding to the charm of its surroundings.

Inside, you’ll discover a treasure trove of artifacts, documents, and photographs that tell the story of the capital’s evolution. 

You can’t help but feel nostalgic here, with exhibits that cover everything from the construction of the Rideau Canal to the early days of Ottawa’s development.

The Bytown Museum offers engaging and interactive exhibits that bring history to life. 

You can learn about the challenges faced by early settlers, explore the canal’s role in shaping the city, and even get a taste of what life was like back in the 19th century.

Kids also get to enjoy educational programs, workshops, and activities that make learning about history fun. It’s an opportunity for young Ottawans to connect with the city’s past.

And here’s the cherry on top—the view from the museum’s terrace is simply breathtaking. 

You can step outside and take in panoramic views of the canal and Parliament Hill. It’s a picture-perfect spot for photos and a great place to relax and soak in the beauty of our city.

Royal Canadian Mint

Royal Canadian Mint

Location: 320 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G8, Canada

Website: https://www.mint.ca/en/visit-the-mint/ottawa-mint

Contact number: +1 613-993-0949

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Entrance fee:

  • Adults (18+): $12
  • Children (ages 5-17): $8
  • Seniors (65+): $10
  • Infants (ages 4 and under): Free
  • Family (2 adults, 2 children): $30

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Friday, Sunday:10:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Saturday: 1:00 PM–5:00 PM

The Royal Canadian Mint (What to do when visiting the Royal canadian mint?) is all about the bling! This is where Canada’s coins and precious metal bullion are produced. 

That means you’re in for a glitzy and fascinating experience right from the start. The architecture of the building itself is a sight to behold, with its modern and sleek design.

For anyone who really wants to see how our currency is made, this is without a doubt the best museum to visit. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how our coins are made from scratch. 

You can witness the production process in action through a glass-enclosed observation area. It’s fascinating to watch the intricate machinery at work, transforming raw materials into shiny coins.

The Mint also offers interactive exhibits. These allow you to hold a gold bar (yes, a real one!), strike your very own commemorative coin, and even learn about the science behind its creation. 

It’s an educational and engaging experience that appeals to visitors of all ages.

The museum doesn’t stop at the coin-making process; it delves into the history of currency in Canada. You’ll learn about the evolution of metal and paper currency, including the famous Canadian “loonie” and “toonie.” 

The Mint houses an impressive collection of rare and unique coinage. From the world’s largest gold coin to pieces with intricate designs and hidden secrets, it’s a numismatist’s dream come true! 

This place also serves as a fantastic family destination. Kids can enjoy interactive displays and learn about the art and science of coin-making in a fun and educational way. 

To make things more exciting, the mint often hosts special events and activities for children. If you time your visit, you’ll have a chance to participate!  

It’s all set against the backdrop of a tranquil and beautifully landscaped garden. It’s a peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a moment of relaxation.

Lastly, the gift shop is a treasure trove of fiat-related souvenirs, including collectible coins, jewelry, and unique gifts. It’s an excellent place to pick up a special memento of your visit.

Canadian Science and Technology Museum

Canadian Science and Technology Museum

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

Website: https://ingeniumcanada.org/scitech

Contact number: +1 613-235-7053

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Entrance fee:

  • Adult (18 years old +): $20.91
  • Senior (60 and over): $15.82
  • Student (18 years old + with valid id): $15.82
  • Youth (3 to 17 years old): $13.56
  • Child (2 years old and under): Free
  • Family: $53.11

Operating hours: 

  • Tuesday-Sunday: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

In terms of wow factor, nothing quite matches the Canadian Science and Technology Museum. It’s housed in a striking, modern building that’s as impressive on the outside as it is on the inside. 

Its unique design immediately grabs your attention and sets the stage for what’s to come.

Inside, you’re in for an awe-inspiring journey through the wonders of science and technology. The museum boasts an extensive collection of artifacts that span centuries, showcasing the remarkable innovations and discoveries that have shaped our world. 

A few things you can find here include vintage cars, steam locomotives, space capsules, and interactive exhibits. All of these serve to captivate our ever-curious minds.

Besides that, you’ll find history coming to life before your very eyes. You will get a chance to learn about the ingenious inventors, the daring pioneers, and the scientific breakthroughs that have changed the world. 

It’s an engaging and educational experience that leaves you with a profound appreciation for human innovation.

The museum knows how to make learning fun, especially for the younger crowd. Kids can explore interactive exhibits, conduct hands-on experiments, and even take part in educational programs that make science and technology come alive.

One of the more interesting features here is the Crazy Kitchen. It’s a mind-bending experience that challenges your sense of balance and perception. 

This installation proves to be a blast for kids and adults alike, and you won’t believe your eyes!

The Canadian Science and Technology Museum also hosts captivating special exhibitions that cover a wide range of topics, from the history of video games to the wonders of space exploration. 

These exhibitions keep things fresh and ensure there’s always something new to discover.