About the Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Building a Collection: History of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum first opened in 1960 at Uplands Airport in Ottawa. At that time, it presented only one of the three major aeronautical collections held by the Canadian government:

  1. The National Aviation Museum collection focused on bush flying and early aircraft manufacturers in Canada. (This was the collection displayed at Uplands.)
  2. The Canadian War Museum’s collection concentrated on military aircraft from the First World War to the 1950s.
  3. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) collection emphasized military aircraft related to RCAF history.

In 1964, these three collections were combined into the National Aeronautical Collection. The amalgamated collection was housed in Second World War era hangars at Ottawa’s historic Rockcliffe Airport. This arrangement gave visitors a better perspective on the development and use of aircraft in Canada over the years. It proved to be tremendously popular.

The Museum joined with the National Museum of Science and Technology in 1967. The National Aeronautical Collection continued to acquire both military and civil aircraft important to Canadian and world aviation history. The collection was officially renamed the National Aviation Museum in 1982.

In 1988, the current Museum display building opened. Two years later, in 1990, the National Museum of Science and Technology Corporation was incorporated, which now operates as Ingenium: Canada’s Science and Innovation Museums. It included the National Aviation Museum and the National Museum of Science and Technology. The latter had by then become the Canada Science and Technology Museum. In 2000, the National Aviation Museum became the Canada Aviation Museum.

In 2005, the Museum building was supplemented by the Reserve Hangar. In 2010, when the Museum’s mandate grew to include aerospace technology, its name was officially changed to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

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