In cities across Canada, there is so much art and history to explore. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to travel far to seek it out. With the many galleries and museums right in our own backyards, a visit to one is the perfect afternoon out for both enjoyment and cultural enrichment.
Canada is home to many world famous museums and galleries, including the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia, the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa, and Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, but there are also many wonderful and unique museums and galleries in small towns and cities across the country.
Here is our list of 10 unusual Canadian museums and galleries worth a visit this year.
Vancouver Police Museum
Housed in the historic Coroner’s Court building, the Vancouver Police Museum in British Columbia is for the morbidly curious at heart. Offering up some bizarre exhibits, from famous unsolved mysteries to the history of forensics, this spot will definitely attract any Law & Order fans out there. Oh, and we’d be remiss not to mention that admission gets you into the city’s former autopsy room and morgue – if you dare.
Dimensions Art Gallery
Most art galleries are no-touch zones, but that’s not the case with Dimensions, the first 3D-painted interactive gallery in Vancouver. Here you can step into the art with optical illusions. Whether you become a giant or sit sideways on a wall, you’re sure to get the perfect Instagram-worthy shot to share with your friends. Even Canadian crooner Michael Bublé is a fan!
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Appropriately located on Halifax’s waterfront, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a whale of a time. From the tragic Halifax Explosion to World War Convoys, take your time exploring the relationship between Canada’s East Coast and the ocean. Most notably, their permanent Titanic exhibit is a must-see with a number of artifacts from the actual ship.
Established in 1886 and pre-dating the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia by just over 20 years, Zwickers Gallery in Halifax’s Spring Garden Road shopping district is in its 136th year. One of the first meeting spots for the city’s local artist community, it remains home to a wide variety of art – contemporary, 19th century, Inuit, antique maps, sculpture, and more.
Museum of Miniatures
What it lacks in size, the charming Museum of Miniatures makes up for in big personality. Under an hour away from Calgary, it is worth the drive to Nanton, Alberta. A labour of love for owners Roy and Carol Wittman, there is plenty of wildlife, circus, farming, and village scenes all built to 1/12” scale that are sure to delight.
One of Canada’s first galleries to prominently feature Canadian First Nations, Métis, and Inuit fine art, the Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta is an important fixture. Located in the Gallery Walk District, take some time to immerse yourself in Indigenous paintings and sculptures.
St. Boniface Museum
As the oldest building in Winnipeg, Manitoba, you can’t get more historic than the St. Boniface Museum. Dedicated to preserving Western Canada’s French-Canadian and Métis heritage, there are several informative walking tours available, including one through the cemetery that stops at the gravesite of Louis Riel.
Leo Mol Sculpture Garden
There’s nothing like a walk in nature to clear your mind. If you’re looking for an outdoor escape, the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden is a unique and peaceful retreat. Located inside Winnipeg’s beautiful Assiniboine Park, there’s no better way to spend a summer Saturday.
Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village & Museum
A ship in the prairies? Located an hour west of Regina, just south of Moose Jaw is the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village & Museum. The museum is named for Tom Sukanen, a Finnish-born Saskatchewan pioneer who famously built a ship on his prairie homestead in the hopes of one day returning to his native Finland. Featuring over 50 building exhibits, the museum showcases the lives of early settlers to Saskatchewan, the arrival of the railway, and the development of the grain industry in the province.
Western Development Museum
Drive west from Regina for less than an hour and you’ll wind up in Moose Jaw, which is one of the locations that make up the Western Development Museum network. In close proximity to the Canadian Forces Base and with a focus on the history of aviation, this one is for the flight fanatics.
Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum
Just a half an hour from London, Ontario awaits a cheese lover’s paradise: the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum. Here you’ll be able to walk through a 19th-century cheese factory and check out the replica of a 7300-pound cheese wheel. No wonder it was voted Top Small Museum in Ontario.
Textile Museum of Canada
With plenty of museums in Toronto to choose from, the Textile Museum of Canada often gets overlooked. But as the only museum of its kind in Canada, it is worth seeking out. From rugs to clothing and quilts to tea cozies, exploring human history through fabrics is a unique experience you won’t soon forget.
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