Visit different worlds at Montréal Space for Life

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on September 24, 2021.

From exploring our natural world to outer space, children of all ages can discover new worlds at the Space for Life, the largest natural sciences museum complex in Canada, which comprises the Botanical Garden, Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Biodôme, Biosphere and Insectarium.

The Insectarium is currently closed for major renovations.

Safety first

To enter the Botanical Garden, Planétarium, Biosphere and Biodôme, Québec public health authorities have mandated a COVID-19 vaccine passport for visitors 13 and over. Wearing of a face mask is also mandatory indoors for people aged 10 and over, and it is also strongly recommended for children under 10. Numerous health measures have been put in place at all of the Space for Life museums to ensure the safety of visitors and employees.

The Botanical Garden

The 75-hectare Montréal Botanical Garden is home to some 20 thematic gardens, including the Alpine Garden, the Chinese Garden and the First Nations Garden, as well as 10 greenhouses. It is an ideal getaway for families looking for a calm and spacious oasis in the city.

Meanwhile, the Botanical Garden’s hugely popular annual Gardens of Light lantern festival features hundreds of colourful, meticulously-constructed lanterns centred around a massive dragon lantern in the Chinese Garden. The lantern festival returns in early September and runs to October 31.

You can also check out the “Blooms of the week” before heading out to the Botanical Garden.

The number of visitors entering the site has been reduced, and online reservation of timed tickets is strongly recommended.

Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

Montréal’s state-of-the-art Rio Tinto Alcan Planétarium features modern facilities and equipment that allow it to incorporate the latest technological innovations.

In the Planétarium, the domes of the Chaos and Milky Way theatres are now equipped with new laser projectors for an ultra-HD experience. The Planétarium offers a several double bills each day. Click here to watch trailers of the shows on display.

The number of spaces is limited to 50 people per screening and ticket reservation can only be done online.

History buffs can also discover Earth via the Planétarium’s ORIGINS photo exhibition by photographer Olivier Grunewald and journalist Bernadette Gilbertas, which runs to January 9, 2022. The exhibition features more than 60 extraordinary large-format photographs taken over 30 years while exploring the wildest and most spectacular spaces in our world, to illustrate evolution and life on our planet.

The Planétarium is closed on Mondays (except on December 31) and Tuesday, December 25 for the holiday season. Be sure to check its online schedule to choose screenings in English or French.

The Insectarium

The Insectarium is one of the largest insect museums in North America. It is currently closed for major renovations.

The Biodôme

The hugely popular Biodôme is housed in the former Velodrome built for the 1976 Montréal Summer Olympic Games. Its rounded shape is evocative of a fossilized shell called a trilobite. The Biodôme – whose name means “House of Life” – is home to more than 4,500 animals from 250 different species and 500 plant species.

After a two-year overhaul, the Biodôme reopened in 2020 with a revitalized, multisensory, and far more immersive experience taking visitors through the five ecosystems of the Americas.

The Biodôme – featured on the cover of the June 2021 issue of Canadian Architect – is a comfortable family-oriented city escape for children of all ages and is a huge crowd-pleaser. Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.

The Biosphere

Located in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène, the Biosphere is an environmental museum currently presenting the temporary exhibitions Ecolab (until December 31), Species Without Borders (until May 31, 2022), and Colours of the World displaying 50 photographs from the National Geographic collection highlighting the unique role of colour in photography, and celebrating the natural and cultural diversity of our planet (runs to May 31, 2022).

The Biosphère welcomes visitors at a rate of 50 people per half hour. Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.

Schedules and directions

Tickets for each venue may be bought individually or as a multi-site package. There are also family rates. Tickets are best purchased online.

You can also download the Space for Life app where you can discover exclusive content and meet virtual animals.

The Montréal Space for Life museums are easily accessible via public transportation. Click here for directions  to each museum.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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