A multi-year, multimillion dollar renovation of a heritage building housing the Canadian Museum of Nature. Gabriel Mackinnon was involved in all areas of the project, including public areas, event spaces, offices and certain exhibits.

Originally known as the Victoria Memorial Museum Building (VMMB), the Canadian Museum of Nature was completed in 1912. When the building began to sink into the problematic leda clay on the site, the North tower was removed to stabilize the structure. The recent renovation replaces the lost tower with a clearly modern intervention, a glazed lantern structure that presents a spectacular modern face to downtown Ottawa. This space also provides circulation and a large scale display area, recently inhabited by an inflatable whale and later a giant jellyfish. It is dramatically uplit from a series of easily aimed and maintainable spotlights concealed in the floor level millwork surrounding the space.

Gallery spaces were redesigned, offering both black box and day-lit experiences. Sensitive exhibits were carefully lit to avoid disturbing any live inhabitants or historical artifacts.

Several areas of the museum are available for rental for events. Finely tuned combinations of cross-fired downlights and discreet modern decorative fixtures provide wonder and animation as people move through the spaces.

Custom uplighting provides a dramatic welcome in the historic atrium, with a mix of warm and cool light used to separate the old from the new. A solid brass globe fixture reproduced from historical photographs anchors the grand staircase at the human scale.

The exterior facade and grounds are elegantly lit with subtle modern fixtures, a clearly modern intervention to a grand old building.