In most people’s minds, the words ‘innovation’ and ‘museum’ don’t often go together.
But innovations in how museums present the old and in how they engage visitors can profoundly change those visitors’ expectations and experiences.
Just over 50 years ago, the Museum’s founding director set the tone for the then brand new Canada Science and Technology Museum when it opened in 1967. “I see no reason why learning shouldn’t be fun. This is a swinging place,” he declared.
Launched in November of Canada’s centennial year, the Museum revolutionized how museums interact with the public. Glass cases, barriers, and “Please Do Not Touch” signs were replaced in favour of presenting artifacts in active, innovative, and engaging ways that were complemented by interactive experiences, with the Crazy Kitchen becoming an instant favourite.
The new Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa opened this past November after a three-year renewal process, completed on time and on budget. Visitors now find a modern, world-class museum featuring more than 7,400 m2 (80,000 sq. ft.) of completely redesigned exhibition space.
A major goal of the Museum before it closed for renewal was to focus on encouraging youth to pursue studies and careers in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Innovation requires creativity. The Museum added the arts into the mix and now champions the synergy of the STEAM subjects to more effectively inspire the next generation of innovators. Winners of the second annual STEAM Horizon Awards for youth will be announced this spring.
Whether it is the voices of those who have been overlooked in the past or the complexity of technological progress with its impact on the planet, the new Museum tells more nuanced stories. It is also letting artifacts present themselves as beautiful, inspiring, and unique objects that have their own stories to recount and that do not have to be boxed into a historical timeline.
The Canada Science and Technology Museum along with the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum are Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation. The Museums are about driving curiosity, discovery, and innovation, all while delivering fun and unexpected moments as visitors are immersed in both Canadian and global stories of science and technology.
The new Canada Science and Technology Museum opened in Ottawa last November during Canada 150.