Visit different worlds at the 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.

NOTE: The Insectarium is still scheduled to reopen in 2021.

This article was updated on August 21, 2020.

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, Insectarium and Biodôme.

The Botanical Garden

The 75-hectare Montréal Botanical Garden is home to some 30 thematic gardens, including the Alpine Garden, the Chinese Garden and the First Nations Garden. With its new summer 2020 hours, guidelines, safety precautions and measures, the Botanical Garden is an ideal getaway for families looking for a calm and spacious oasis in the city.

The outdoor gardens (but not the greenhouses) are open this summer. Compliance with the new health and physical distancing guidelines has forced the cancellation of some summer activities.

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 up to October 31 (cancelled in 2020).

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

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

Numerous measures have been put in place at the Botanical Garden to ensure the safety of visitors and employees.

Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

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

The Planetarium presents four double features this summer: Polaris and Lucia,The Secret of Shooting Stars; Passport to the Universe and One Day on Mars; Continuum and Aurorae; and Aurorae and One Day on Mars.

The number of spaces is limited to 30 people per show and ticket reservation can only be done online. Children 17 and under are admitted free of charge until August 31. 

Numerous measures have been put in place at the Planetarium to ensure the safety of visitors and employees.

History buffs can also discover Earth from the comfort of their own home with the Planetarium’s virtual and immersive ORIGINS photo exhibition by photographer Olivier Grunewald and journalist Bernadette Gilbertas. 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 Planetarium 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, where more than 4,800 animals from 230 different species and some 750 plant species await you under one roof. The Insectarium is home to some 250,000 specimens of living and naturalized insects, including an anthill and other exciting vivariums. The Insectarium is closed for renovations.

You can learn about the Insectarium’s collections online.

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. The Biodôme just underwent major revamp.

Schedules and directions

Tickets for each venue may be bought individually or as a multi-site package. There are also family rates. To avoid the lineups, tickets can be purchased online.

You can also download an app to navigate the Insectarium.

The Montréal Space for Life museums are easily accessible via public transportation.

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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