I grew up in Ottawa and made an annual grade-school pilgrimage to the “castle.” We invariably seemed to go in the dead of winter, so my memories are of our salty boots running up the marble stairs and our loud voices echoing around the giant foyer behind the big wooden front doors. The castle was, of course, the Museum of Nature.
The Museum has evolved a lot since those days and now organizes travelling exhibits to promote it’s collections and spread the knowledge beyond the realm of the castle.
Recently I attended a vernissage for a pop-up show of rocks and minerals from the museum. It was held in the spacious lobby of Constitution Square (CSQ) at 350 Albert Street. The exhibit features about 90 shiny minerals in glass display cases along with some interactive stations.
At the vernissage there was a rock group (get it?) from the Canada Music Academy playing requests submitted by the crowd milling around the lobby. Mayor Jim Watson and Meg Beckel, CEO of the Museum of Nature made short statements about the exhibit and then there was a group ribbon cutting to officially open it.
Apt613 talked to Nicola Powadiuk, Director of Exhibitions for Canderel at the vernissage. Canderel are the owners/managers of Constitution Square.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Apt613: It looks like this show is part of the series of exhibits that Canderel is putting on. What are some of the other topics?
Nicola Powadiuk: Canderel has been collaborating with various world class museums and galleries and hosting satellite exhibits at signature properties. We are focusing on Place du Canada in Montreal, 777 Bay in Toronto and then CSQ in Ottawa. Last year we had collaborations with the Canada Science and Tech Museum in Toronto and the Museum of Nature as well as the National Gallery at this location.
It sounds like the museums are well set up to do pop-up exhibitions.
Absolutely. A lot of the big museums have traveling exhibits and so then we utilize the traveling exhibits but are showing them in a very unconventional kind of innovative way because usually they move to different museums. And so it’s really exciting to have it in a business center because it’s an unanticipated, pleasant reminder to reflect on our environment and just take a pause in your busy day and just enjoy something.
I assume you are not expecting tourists to do this as a destination. It’s mostly for downtown folks who might hear about it and say, “Okay, I’ll drop by there”?
Absolutely. And even just the foot traffic of this building alone is a couple thousand a day. So there will be a lot of people that will enjoy this on their lunch breaks and on their way to work.
What are some future pop-ups that you’ve got planned?
We’re expanding and exploring partnerships and collaborations with some new groups, including the ROM, the AGO and the Aga Khan Museum inside of Toronto, which is very exciting. And we’ll continue to explore new opportunities with Ingenium, which is the umbrella organization for the Canada Science and Technology Museum and Aviation, as well as the National Gallery of Canada.
So what’s in this for Canderel?
From their perspective this is providing a very unique tenant experience and also helps cultivate a sense of community within the buildings. Constitution Square, for example, is a class AA LEED certified building and we’re very passionate about the environment. So having something that is environment related is particularly of interest.
The pop-up Canadian Museum of Nature exhibit of minerals continues in the lobby of Constitution, Square 350 Albert Street, until February 22nd. Admission is free.