Saturday, September 17, 2016

National Museum Architecture

The National Museum of History (formerly the National Museum of Civilization) is a grand piece of sculpture in its own right.  Designed by Douglas Cardinal, a native person himself, from Alberta, this is probably his best known work.  I swear there are no straight lines in the building except for the floors themselves (which are flat. after all).

The curatorial wing is stunning, showing the curved lines of Cardinal's architecture.  He sees his buildings as growing out of the landscape, and fitting in to the site, here beside the Ottawa River.

The public side of the museum has that immense Grand Hall; this is what it looks like from the outside.  The curves are everywhere, even in the fences and railings.

 Cardinal has described the museum as a massive outcropping of layered sandstone, representing the landscape of Canada.

We walked up to the highest outdoor point for a view of the |Parliament Buildings across the river, our steps kept in check by those curved railings.

We headed down the steps to the river as our daughter had mentioned you could get a boat ride across the river - a lot easier than walking the big bridge!

Tomorrow, the water taxi over to the bottom of the Rideau Canal locks.

Interestingly, Cardinal's other best known work is probably the National Museum of the American Indian, located between the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian Museum, in Washington, D.C. and built with some of the same curving lines.

I thought later that this post would fit
 TexWisGirl's 'Good Fences' meme well,
 with all those curved railings, so here it is:

Linking to:


  1. His first major building with curves is St Mary's church in Red Deer. Check it out. we are proud of him.

  2. I love the museum, and the building is striking, but something about it just doesn't feel good to me. I recently learned that it is on the site of a First Nations burial ground!

  3. For me the waves of the building remind me of rolls of film - what a cool building

  4. Yes, I like it and it does remind me of a sandstone outcrop. One would enjoy seeing the faces of the bricklayers when first confronted with the plans!

  5. Reminds a little of our Native American Museum which is supposed to reflect the desert hills.

  6. If I had to pick a favourite place in Ottawa and Gatineau, this museum would be it. It's incredible.

  7. What a beautiful place, with all those curves. I love it. Thank you so much for taking such great pictures and sharing them. :-)

  8. It looks like a great place to visit with all the beautiful building structures and railings.

  9. A beautiful spot. I've taken many students there!

  10. wow, that's neat. loved the curvature of the fencing, too.

  11. Fascinating architecture. I love the curved fencing and the curves of the building.