Mould contamination closes museum

The Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa has shut its doors, for now at least.

Last Friday, as The Globe and Mail reported, the museum was forced to close indefinitely because of toxic mould contamination. It said the museum building, which used to be a baker’s warehouse, has suffered from chronic underfunding in recent decades, a problem that the federal government is reluctant to fix.Canadian business and technology leaders have expressed their concern over the closure.

“In this day and age, when we are trying as hard as we can to get kids interested in science and technology, because that is where the jobs are, the museum closing is a disaster,” said Sue Abu-Hakima, an Ottawa-based tech entrepreneur and CEO, in an email Tuesday.

More than 20 million visitors have passed through the doors of the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa since it opened in 1967. Generations of children have marvelled at the achievements of Canadian scientists and inventors on display, and many adults still have vivid memories of the museum.

Emma Godmere is a writer and radio producer living in Toronto. Writing in the Ottawa Citizen on Sept. 15, she recounted her first visit as a child. “I learned how voices and images are transmitted through the air. A new kind of awe rooted me to the spot. I daydreamed about working in media someday. Even standing among the trains, I was spellbound. I didn’t want to leave,” she wrote.

Many believe the time is long overdue for the construction of new facilities at a more central address. In the 2013 November/December edition of the Canadian Chemical News, Roland Andersson, executive director of the Chemical Institute of Canada, lamented the fact the museum is only able to display three per cent of its collection due to lack of space.

“Surely our national achievements in science and engineering deserve better facilities,” wrote Andersson.

Abu-Hakima said the current situation needed a quick remedy, until a long-term solution could be found.

“I am hoping that they can either co-locate some of the collection with the other museums in Ottawa temporarily or they can get the money from government to fix the problem.”

She believes that “education is freedom,” while “science and technology education will get graduates jobs which is good for all levels of government in terms of taxes.”

Museum staff told the Ottawa Citizen, “The Museum will remain closed at least for a few weeks.”


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