Ontario Science Centre in Toronto
Ontario Science Centre (or in French: Centre des sciences de l'Ontario) is a science museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, near the Don Valley Parkway about 11 km northeast of downtown on Don Mills Road just south of Eglinton Avenue East. It is built down the side of a wooded ravine formed by one branch of the Don River.
Planning for the centre started in 1961 during Toronto's massive expansion of the late 1950s and 1960s. In 1964 the famous Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama was hired to design the site. The design, consisting of three main buildings connected by a series of bridges and escalators, follows the natural contours of the Don River ravine, into which the Centre descends. Construction started in 1966 with plans to make it a part of the city's 1967 Canadian Centennial celebrations. It was officially named the Centennial Centre of Science and Technology. However construction was not complete in 1967, and the Science Centre did not open to the public until two years later, on September 26, 1969.
At the time, the Science Centre was a pioneer for its hands on approach to science, which was later duplicated in San Francisco's Exploratorium and Detroit's Museum of Science and Technology. Unlike a traditional museum, where the exhibits are for display only, the majority of the exhibits at the Science Centre were interactive, while many others were live demonstrations (metalworking for example). The Communications room contained a number of computerized displays, including a very popular tic-tac-toe game run on a PDP-11.
The centre was very popular during the 1970s, but by the mid to later 1980s visiting rates had dropped considerably. Most of the displays were the originals, and had become either outdated, or worn out. During the 1990s these issues were addressed by opening the Science Centre to corporate funding. In 1996 the province's first OMNIMAX theatre opened in an expanded entrance area and additional changes soon followed. The most recent of these changes is the $40 million Agents of Change project, the final phase of which opened in June 2006.
The Centre has several hundred interactive and passive exhibits throughout the buildings. They feature everything in science and nature. They feature geology, the science of nature (in the west wing), astronomical science, how to play music and technology in the south wing, human anatomy, communication and bias, and some miscellaneous artifacts of science. The astronomical wing, which was closed for renovation since Pluto's demotion in August 2006, has now been refurbished and reopened to the public, featuring Toronto's only operating planetarium, as well as one of the few Mars and Moon rocks on public display in Canada. Canadian astronaut Julie Payette recorded narration for several of the exhibits (some of which were updated to reflect the fact Pluto was no longer considered a planet).
The Great Hall is home to a massive, computer-controlled kinetic sculpture, "Cloud" by Toronto installation artist, David Rokeby.
The Centre hosted "Harry Potter The Exhibition", a collection of props from the film series. The exhibit opened on April 9, 2010 and ran until Labour Day 2010. Recent major exhibitions have included Body Worlds. The latest temporary exhibit is "Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop", featuring physical models of da Vinci's inventions, built from drawings in his Codices. It also includes interactive touch-screen digital reproductions of the Codices, Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.
Agents of Change
Agents of Change is the Ontario Science Centre's innovation initiative that is transforming more than 30% of its indoor spaces and creating new outdoor experiences. The Agents of Change initiative raised more than $47 million to date.
Ontario Science Centre Science School
The Ontario Science Centre Science School (OSCSS) offers credited grade 12 University Preparation courses in 3 of the following of the student's choice: Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, and Advanced Functions. Students from all over Ontario apply and are selected to spend a semester at the OSCSS. The OSCSS offers enriched learning in small and informal classes of no more than 28 students. While at the Science Centre, students earn practicum hours through volunteering and interacting with the visitors.
Ontario Science Centre aquatic play fountain
As originally built, the Science Centre had a large fountain area directly in front of the entranceway, located to create a traffic roundabout. The original water fountain has been rejuvenated to become the main centerpiece of Exploration Plaza (Teluscape), which opened to the public on 20 September 2006. The new fountain is also a hydraulophone (and a hydraulic-action pipe organ) in which anyone walking into the space can play . Blocking the flow of any one of the 57 water jets in the fountain forces the water across to a corresponding organ pipe, where it makes a loud sound as the water is forced out through the speaking mouth of the pipe. The lowest 12 notes in each division (north division and south division) of the organ are visible as pipes arranged in a circle. The North Division consists of stopped hydrapaisons (similar to diapaisons but running on water rather than air), whereas the South Division pipes are open at both ends (sound emerges from the ends rather than from a mouth as with the North pipes). The North organ console consists of 12 water jets, whereas the south console consists of 45 water jets.
The organ is supplied with water from three Pentair pumps, supplying water at a rate of 130 gallons per minute, each by way of a three inch (76 mm) diameter water line, as well as air from three Ingersol Rand four cylinder air compressors, each having a 25 hp motor. Since the instrument runs on both air and water, it may be regarded as a hybrid hydraulophone and pneumatophone, but because it is played by blocking water jets rather than air holes, it is principally a hydraulophone.
For the winter of November 21, 2007, the aquatic play facility was temporarily switched from water-operation to air-operation, effectively becoming perhaps one of the first pneumatic-play facilities, where visitors can frolic in a fountain of air jets. In this mode of operation the fountain becomes a woodwind instrument.
Teluscape, the outdoor exhibit space, is open to the public.
In 1990 it was revealed the Ontario Science Centre signed a contract with Oman to design a children's museum. The Ontario Science Centre agreed to boycott Israeli goods and services while under contract. The Ontario Science Centre later amended the contract to read all goods sold to Oman would be produced in North America. The centre's Director General Mark Abbott was later sacked for knowingly signing the original contract.
- Ontario Science Centre homepage
- Ontario Science Centre current science site
- Ontario Science Centre Science School Alumni Web Site
- Opening of Teluscape, 2006 Sept. 20th, including audiovisual recording of the water pipe organ
- How to play in/on the Science Centre's South fountain
- Ontario Science Centre First Anniversary Party Image Archival photograph from the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University
The Museum is affiliated with: CMA, CHIN, and Virtual Museum of Canada.