A Brief Introduction
The Canada Agriculture Museum is located on the Central Experimental Farm. It consists of Museum exhibitions, a working Dairy Barn, the Small animal barn which features sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and rabbits, and the Horse & Cattle Barn.
The barn in which the exhibits are located was built in 1914 at a cost of $12,000. It replaced the original dairy barn that was built in 1891 and burnt down in 1913. The first floor housed the dairy herd, while the second floor housed the feedmill used by the Animal Research Institute for animal nutrition research until 1979. It was converted into a museum in 1983 by the National Museum of Science and Technology Corporation (now the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation). As of 1995, the exhibitions and the animals are managed by the National Museum of Science and Technology Corporation (now the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation).
The museum has two displays:
About the Canada Agriculture Museum
The mission of the Canada Agriculture Museum is as follows:
We show how science and technology in agriculture transform the lives of Canadians by demonstrating the processes by which Canadians get their food, fibres and other agricultural products. And we make it fun!
The Canada Agriculture Museum is a unique combination of a modern working farm and a museum. We are located on a 5 acre site on Ottawa's Central Experimental Farm, a 1052 acre farm that has been designated a National Historic Site. Our site encompasses several heritage buildings, including the Dairy Barn, the Small Animal Barn and the Old Barn. We fulfill our mission through exhibitions, special events, school programs, workshops, demonstrations, and collaboration with related museums and organizations. We draw upon the artifact, photographic and documentary collection and curatorial expertise of our parent museum, the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Over 170,000 people visited the Museum between April 1, 1999 and March 31, 2000.
Through our exhibitions and programs, we aim to show a mainly urban audience where people get their food, fibre and other agricultural products, and the role of science and technology in agriculture. Our farm operations are at the heart of our programming and consist of a working dairy herd, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits, geese, horses and a donkey. We strive to display and interpret a variety of breeds of farm animals, including modern commercial breeds as well as rare and historic breeds. As we are the only venue for displaying and interpreting the National Agriculture Collection of the Canada Science and Technology Museum, we also have exhibitions, programs and special events that feature agricultural artifacts. Currently, our Museum features two exhibitions, Tractors and Bread: The Inside Story. Finally, as part of our programming, we grow and display crops, and demonstrate processes related to food production.
Relationship to the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation
The Canada Agriculture Museum is one of three museums that fall under the umbrella of the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation. The other two museums are the Canada Science and Technology Museum and the Canada Aviation Museum.
Services such as Sponsorship and Fundraising, Facilities Management and Graphic Exhibit Design are performed by staff at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
Relationship to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Canada Agriculture Museum maintains a close relationship with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Canada's federal department of agriculture, which owns the buildings and the land on which the Museum is situated. The Showcase herds were transferred from AAFC to NMSTC (now CSTMC) on September 1, 1995. This allowed the Canada Agriculture Museum to modify the herd composition in order to cut costs and increase the revenue potential of the Dairy Herd.
In April 1996, the Museum and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada signed a three year occupation permit which was renewed in 1999. Several employees from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada were hired by NMSTC (now CSTMC) to care for the animals, and the equipment for the Showcase Barns was transferred. A fence was built around the complex in order to control admissions and to create a safe pedestrian precinct that alleviates many of the vehicular-pedestrian conflicts that plagued the site earlier.
The Fire... and the Future
Tragedy struck during the early morning of Friday August 30th, 1996 when a fire broke out in the Beef Barn and then spread to the McNeely residence used as offices for the staff. A total of 57 animals were lost including some rare breeds such as the Jacob sheep and most of the beef cattle. Only one Limousin Heifer survived the fire. Also lost were educational, resource and programming materials. Support from the community came rapidly and, since that time, new animals have been acquired and building upgrades have been undertaken to improve visitor and animal safety. The future looks bright for the Canada Agriculture Museum: the new Horse & Cattle Barn opened in March 2000, and a master plan is in the works for the long term development of the site.