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Space for Life part 1: Biodôme

14 Mar 2017

Back in September 2015, I spent a handful of days in Montréal. I visited a few museums, but at the time, only one temporary exhibition at the Biodôme received brief mention on this blog. This happens all the time—I take photos everywhere I go, and then I just sit on them…

So let’s dust off those photos (or pretend it’s September 2015), and visit the Biodôme.


The Biodôme is part of a museum complex called Espace Pour La Vie (“Space for Life”) that also includes the Insectarium, Jardin botanique (botanical gardens), and Planétarium. You can buy combination admission tickets and pick which you would like to visit, but don’t miss the Insectarium.

The largest exhibition, and primary draw, within the Biodôme is Ecosystems of the Americas. The exhibition is broken into four ecosystems conveyed by immersive landscaping, climate, and live vegetation and wildlife. The air inside the Tropical Rainforest ecosystem is warm and muggy, while inside the Sub-Antarctic Islands ecosystem, for example, it is decidedly chilly.


Inside the Tropical Rainforest you walk through mature and secondary forests, and pass a waterfall, lake, river, cliffs, and caves. Graphics throughout are minimal, restricted to brief labels and occasional monitors. Like most places in Montréal, text is in French, with English translations.


Charming illustrations and species’ statuses are available in the free Identification Guide, but this too is light on information beyond identification. Not that I mind—museums can be exhausting!


Inside the cave you’ll find terrarium-dwellers and nocturnal-types; these graphics were all rear-illuminated, and included a bit more information.


Moving along, you reach the Laurentian Maple Forest. At the entrance to each ecosystem you are greeted by a large wall mural: a collage of color-saturated photos, clean-lined vector illustrations, and a where-in-the-world diagram.



Maintaining the minimal aesthetic throughout, there are still elements of whimsy, such as photos of playful otters applied to the glass wall of their enclosure. Wayfinding elements also show up on the floor, and on support columns.


Downstairs, there are a couple of small exhibitions: the Naturalia Room, which is directed toward children, and a temporary exhibition, which at the time was The Fossil Affair.


Overall, the Biodôme was a fun museum to visit, and the immersive ecosystems were well-done.

(Also check out Space for Life part 2: Insectarium.)

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