A Trip through History at the Manitoba Museum

A Trip through History at the Manitoba Museum

We absolutely dreaded going to museums as kids, but mostly because of our short attention spans. Somehow though, the Manitoba Museum has managed to keep even the most attention-deficit of us interested all throughout. 

The realistic replicas and dioramas, fossils, Planetarium shows, and the toy paradise at the Science Gallery taught us better than school ever did.

The Manitoba Museum can seem overwhelming with its three separate attractions, so we’ll explain everything you need to know. We’ll guide you through each of the museum’s galleries, the Science Gallery, the Planetarium, and their costs.

History of Manitoba Museum

History of Manitoba Museum

The Manitoba Museum was preceded by the Manitoba Planetarium, which opened two years before the museum. The planetarium opened on May 15, 1968, while the museum opened on July 15, 1970.

The museum offered collections demonstrating the journey from nature to man and how one affected the other.

Two years after the museum first opened its doors, it was merged with the planetarium to create the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. 

More galleries were added over the years with the help of the nearly 400-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company. All were designed to tell the human and natural history of Manitoba and highlight the research done by the museum’s experts.

What is the Manitoba Museum known for?

What is the Manitoba Museum known for

The Manitoba Museum is known for its beautiful dioramas, Planetarium shows, and Science Gallery exhibits. 

These attractions give you engaging ways to learn about the province’s natural and human history, as well as to enjoy the discoveries of its archaeologists.

The Manitoba Museum Galleries

The Manitoba Museum Galleries

The Manitoba Museum has nine main galleries. These are:

1. Welcome Gallery
2. Earth History Gallery
3. Arctic and Sub-Arctic Gallery
4. Boreal Forest Gallery
5. Nonsuch Gallery
6. Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) Gallery
7. Parklands Gallery
8. Prairies Gallery
9. Winnipeg Gallery

These nine galleries can be found on the main floor, while the Science Gallery and the Planetarium are on the lower level. The museum journey immerses you in each stage of Manitoba’s history, going all the way back to the Ordovician Period.

We can say that the HBC gallery is the most fun of them all since it displays the HBC Collection—a collection of artifacts and treasures collected by HBC throughout its 350-year history.

The Science Gallery and the Planetarium are separate attractions from the museum and are more engaging than the rest. 

The Science Gallery has a giant LEGO brickyard and DIY remote-controlled cars you can play with, while the Planetarium offers live shows and movies on various themes. These two make for great alone activities or for some family fun.

Aside from the main exhibits though, temporary ones spring up from time to time, usually lasting less than a year each. You can look these up on the museum’s website.

Past exhibits included Strik 1919: Divided City, Fossil Favourites from Across Canada, and Vikings of the First World War: Icelandic Canadians in Service.

1. Welcome Gallery

Welcome Gallery

The Welcome Gallery sets the mood of the Manitoba Museum, greeting you with the rumbling sound of stampeding Bison. 

Here, the Indigenous Peoples of Manitoba and the nine remaining galleries are introduced through artifacts, a wall projection, and collections such as fungi.

As we explored the room, we found a gallery introduction display case giving a glimpse of the next galleries, Indigenous artifacts from the first Manitoba settlers, and a wall projection video placing thousands of years of history in two minutes.

The Bison Diorama points toward the next room, starting your journey with Earth history.

2. Earth History Gallery

Earth History Gallery

The Manitoba Museum’s Earth History gallery traces Manitoba’s geological history through fossils. Different forms of life from up to half a billion years ago are hung around the room in chronological order.

Manitoba is known for its abundance of fossils, allowing museums like the Manitoba Museum and the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre to come to life. 

The gallery displays fossils as small as trilobites to dinosaurs, with the plesiosaur and mosasaur serving as its centerpieces.

3. Arctic and Sub-Arctic Gallery

Arctic and Sub-Arctic Gallery

The Arctic and Sub-arctic Gallery focuses on Manitoba’s northern ecosystem, featuring polar bears, Beluga whales, and caribou.

Information is given on the environment too, covering topics such as the northern lights, permafrost, and tides.

As you enter the room, the journey from north to south Manitoba begins. The gallery first presents the arctic ecosystem, with dioramas of Padlirmiut Inuit and Denesułine people settling and hunting their game. 

Deeper into the room is the sub-arctic section featuring a herd of caribou migrating toward the boreal forest as the Ice Age disappeared. 

The gallery gives a great image of Manitoba’s first settlers and how they survived the permafrost before the boreal forest existed.

4. Boreal Forest Gallery

Boreal Forest Gallery

The Boreal Forest Gallery presents the significance of the massive forest, which takes up almost one-third of Manitoba. 

A diorama shows the transition of the forest from ancient to the present, showing slowly dwindling settlers and wildlife as miners and loggers take their place.

The forest is best explored through the gallery’s Boreal Forest Corridor, a wall plastered with fossils and replicas of the wildlife. It contains products made from the forest too, showing how important the place is to Manitoba.

5. Nonsuch Gallery

Nonsuch Gallery

The Nonsuch was the first merchant ship of the Hudson’s Bay Company—the museum’s principal sponsor. This gallery brings to light the beginnings of HBC in 1668, featuring a replica ship built with 17th-century materials.

As you enter the gallery, they’re given the opportunity to imagine being onboard the Nonsuch. Past the Nonsuch replica are various platforms meant to replicate different decks of the ship.

The Nonsuch theme extends to the next gallery, the HBC Gallery, where you are sure to leave with a good understanding of HBC’s nautical history.

6. Hudson’s Bay Company Gallery

Hudson’s Bay Company Gallery

The Hudson’s Bay Company Gallery houses the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection for you to enjoy. The collection features artifacts the company has collected over its centuries of trade.

The gallery is set on a replica of one of the Nonsuch’s decks, the first ship of HBC, which we think is a very nice touch. 

Thousands of artifacts were collected over 300 years, making the HBC collection one of the most valued collections in Canada. Most of the collection came from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, ensuring the preservation of their cultures.

These artifacts are decorated across a wall map, showing the slow expansion of the company to the farthest reaches of the globe. 

7. Parklands Gallery

Parklands Gallery

The Parklands Gallery highlights the diversity of the wildlife and landscapes in the region, the most diverse in Manitoba. 

The room is decorated by painted murals and room-filling dioramas displaying things like snake pits, limestone caves with hundreds of bats, deer, and the Ukrainian Rye Farm.

The Parkland region is so diverse that it’s hard to see this gallery as a coherent collection. Dioramas and displays of fish, plains, caves, woods, and mountains are spread throughout the room, showing just how big the region is.

8. Prairies Gallery

Prairies Gallery

The Prairies Gallery brings to light the injustices toward Indigenous Peoples through the infamous residential schools. 

An interactive video surrounded by dioramas of Pronghorns, a tipi, and the Red River serves as the centerpiece of the gallery.

Entering the room, the gallery greets you with 360-degree audio of the Prairie region wildlife. Further into the room is a replica of an old-fashioned schoolhouse where the highlight of the gallery sits.

An interactive video inside the schoolhouse plays tens of stories of Manitoba residents and of Indigenous People that have suffered in residential schools. We felt slightly disturbed and you may too, so be careful.

Residential schools sought to Canadianize Indigenous children by separating them from their families and subjecting them to physical abuse.

The gallery serves as an eye-opener to visitors who don’t know much about Canada’s past. It creatively lures you into a false sense of peace similar to how Indigenous children felt right before entering the schools.

9. Winnipeg Gallery

Winnipeg Gallery

The Winnipeg Gallery is the Manitoba Museum’s newest addition, featuring a timeline film depicting Winnipeg’s history. 

A long display case with three separate themes can also be found: Indigenous Homeland, City of Newcomers, and City of Celebrations.

The case features artifacts relevant to their specific themes, as well as a touchscreen table that provides more information through articles and digital maps with interactive scenarios. 

The map is fun to play with, especially since you can release disasters like floods to see how Winnipeg was designed to withstand anything. We ended up playing around with earthquakes and epidemics for 20 minutes!

The Manitoba Museum Science Gallery

The Manitoba Museum Science Gallery

The Science Gallery is one of the Manitoba Museum’s three main attractions, the other two being the museum itself and the Planetarium. 

Temporary exhibits are also often held featuring new scientific discoveries, emerging technologies, and contemporary topics of interest like climate change.

The gallery is filled with fun interactive sections designed to bring out your creativity. Here’s what you can find:

Brickyard: Build with LEGO BricksThe LEGO Brickyard is where engineers are made, giving you a room full of all the bricks you’ll ever need.
Lake Winnipeg: Shared SolutionsShared Solutions presents an interactive stream table that lets you play around with Lake Winnipeg’s ecosystem, as well as see the effects your changes will have on Manitoba.
Pulley ChairsPully Chairs is a giant vertical swingset, where you can pull yourself up and down with a pulley system.
Engineered for SpeedCreate your own cars at Engineered for Speed and test them out at the miniature race track.
Cosmos CornerThe Cosmos Corner features the full-sized Black Brant rocket built by Magellan Aerospace.
Animation StationAnimation Station lets you create your own stop-motion films.

The Manitoba Museum Planetarium

The Manitoba Museum Planetarium

The Manitoba Planetarium is a special attraction at the Manitoba Museum, used to host 45-minute shows focusing on both the past and future adventures of man. 

The shows are family-friendly and blend the use of live actors and technology. 

Through captivating shows and presentations, you can learn about astronomy, space exploration, and the mysteries of the cosmos. 

It’s all engaging and informative enough that both children and adults can expand their knowledge and appreciation of our vast universe.

Membership and Ticketing Information at the Manitoba Museum

Membership and Ticketing Information at the Manitoba Museum

Manitoba Museum tickets can be bought either separately for the galleries, Science Gallery, and Planetarium, or as all-inclusive. 

Children (0-2) and Indigenous Peoples get free admission, while the general public has to pay. Museum tickets are pricier than for the Science Gallery and Planetarium.

If you plan on returning or visiting other museums, Manitoba Museum memberships offer free or discounted prices within the museum and with affiliate organizations. Here’s what membership gets you along with its costs:

  • Unlimited general admission to all museum attractions, with refunds for tickets bought up to two weeks before attaining membership.
  • Early-bird ticket access and special discounted pricing on public programs, course registrations, and temporary exhibitions.
  • 10% museum shop discount and discounts at local restaurants and businesses.
  • Subscription to the monthly Member Insider e-newsletter.
  • Free or discounted admission to affiliate science centers, museums, and local organizations.
Membership BundlesPrices

Two adults (18+) and three youths (3-17)


Two adults (18-64)

Senior Pair:

Two seniors (65+)

Adult (18-64)$46
Senior (65+)$38
Youth (3-17)$32

(provides 8 member cards)


If you don’t want to avail of the museum’s membership though, here’s what individual tickets cost:

Museum Galleries• Adults (18-64): $15.75

• Seniors (65+): $13.65

• Youth (3-17 with ID): $9.45

• Children (0-2) and Indigenous Peoples: Free

Science Gallery• Adults (18-64): $8.4

• Seniors (65+): $7.35

• Youth (3-17 with ID): $6.30

• Children (0-2) and Indigenous Peoples: Free

Planetarium (per show)• Adults (18-64): $8.4

• Seniors (65+): $7.35

• Youth (3-17 with ID): $6.3

• Children (0-2) and Indigenous Peoples: Free


Museum Galleries

Science Gallery

One Planetarium Show

• Adults (18-64): $23

• Seniors (65+): $20

• Youth (3-17 with ID): $15

• Children (0-2) and Indigenous Peoples: Free

Manitoba Museum Accessibility and Visitor Information

Manitoba Museum Accessibility and Visitor Information

The Manitoba Museum has three entrances, but only those along Rupert Avenue and Lily Street are accessible via lifts and ramps. 

Inside, all the exhibits have options for persons with disabilities and can accommodate service animals.