Part of the Space for Life – the largest natural sciences museum complex in Canada – the planetarium creates new ways to get in touch with nature and the universe by combining art and science.
Designed to meet the highest environmental standards and located next to the Biodôme, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium makes a strong architectural statement.
Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal — Photo courtesy of Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium
“With the Biodome, the Botanical Garden, the Insectarium and now the Planetarium, this Space for Life constitutes a very valuable scientific instrument and an educational tool of the first order, supporting Montréal’s leadership as a city of learning, a UNESCO City of Design and a city of public and digital art,” says Montreal's Mayor Michael Applebaum.
The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium consists of two theaters offering complementary experiences of the sky and the universe. It's best to begin your visit in the Chaos Theatre, where the interactive show Continuum, created by Montreal multi-media artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, takes visitors on an odyssey through space, accompanied by a Philip Glass soundtrack.
In the Milky Way Theatre, a scientific interpreter guides visitors From the Earth to the Stars, so that participants feel as though they are aboard a spacecraft on a guided tour of the universe. This show changes seasonally and according to the current events in astronomy.
The interactive exhibition Exo: Our Search for Life in the Universe explores the question "Does life exist beyond Earth?" The answers can be found via the interactive kiosks, projections and multimedia games.
Under the artistic direction of Lemieux and Pilon, the exhibition makes the most of digital technology to communicate updated information from scientific discoveries.
The largest public collection of meteorites in all Quebec – over 300 pieces – has its own special section at the planetarium. Here, visitors can check out meteorites that originated from both the moon and Mars.
“This is a first, as there was really nowhere in the province that could house, preserve and study meteorite fragments like this before,” explains Pierre Lacombe, director of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
Time permitting, it is possible to visit all four venues that comprise Space for Life in one day, but, especially on weekends, the lines can be long.
Remember, though: you can buy tickets for any one of them at all four locations. Also, it may be a good idea to plan your visits according to film screenings and special presentation times.