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The 9 Best Free Museums in Ottawa

The 9 Best Free Museums in Ottawa

Looking to soak up some culture in Ottawa without emptying your wallet? We’ve rounded up the top free museums in the city just for you. 

And we’ve also got the lowdown on the perfect times to swing by for that sweet free entry. Get ready to discover Ottawa’s rich history and vibrant arts scene without breaking the bank!

Canada Science and Technology Museum

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Address: Scientique, 1867 St. Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, ON K1G 5A3

Contact details: +1 613-235-7053

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Free admission: Every day from 4 PM to 5 PM


The Canada Science and Technology Museum is about sharing the fascinating history of Canadian technology and science while exploring their connection to Canadian society.

With 11 permanent exhibits, including the interactive Children’s Innovation Zone, there’s a lot to take in. You definitely don’t want to miss the mind-bending Crazy Kitchen exhibit or the intriguing Artifact Alley, which showcases over 700 artifacts spanning different periods in Canadian history.

Getting there is easy – you can hop on public transit (highly recommended due to limited parking) or drive and park on-site for a fee. So whether you’re a history buff or just curious about Canada’s scientific advancements, this museum offers an engaging experience for all.

Pro tip: Just to let you know, Ingenium offers free admission to active Canadian military personnel, veterans, Indigenous peoples, and support leaders accompanying a person with disabilities. They may ask for an ID card as proof.

National Gallery of Canada

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Address: 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4

Contact details:  +1 613-990-1985

Opening hours: Tuesday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday from 5 PM to 8 PM


Step inside the National Gallery of Canada, where over 93,000 artworks await your discovery. From Canadian and Indigenous masterpieces to innovative travelling exhibits like the Group of Seven graphic design art, there’s something to captivate every art lover.

Families will have a blast with all the creative opportunities here, from crafting activities to exploring modern twists in traditional Canadian art. And when hunger strikes, you can refuel at the cafeteria and tapas bar with some delicious bites to keep your artistic journey going strong!

Before you leave, don’t forget to browse the gift shop for unique souvenirs and mementos to commemorate your visit. With its diverse offerings and vibrant atmosphere, the National Gallery promises an unforgettable artistic adventure. 

Pro tip: If you have toddlers with you, there are strollers up for grabs, and there’s no need to reserve or pay. Just make sure to rock those child carriers on the front for that extra dash of convenience and safety!

Canadian Museum of Nature

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Address: 240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1

Contact details: +1 800-263-4433

Opening hours: Saturday to Wednesday: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM; Thursday: 9:30 AM – 8:00 PM; Friday: 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday from 5 PM to 8 PM


Explore the Canadian Museum of Nature housed in the stunning Victoria Memorial Museum building—a captivating castle-like structure. As you approach, the architecture itself promises an immersive experience.

Inside, discover the museum’s four main collections: botany, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. Each collection weaves a unique narrative, inviting you on a journey through the wonders of the natural world.

Roam through seven engaging permanent exhibits seamlessly connected to the main collections, covering Fossils, Water, Nature, Birds, Earth, Mammals, and the awe-inspiring Canada Goose Arctic Gallery. 

And don’t miss the chance to catch a spellbinding show at the 3D theatre! It’s an extra touch of excitement for an additional cost, offering a dynamic perspective on the wonders of nature.

Pro tip: Plan for a visit of at least 3 hours, and consider bringing along a cold lunch or snacks, especially if you’re bringing kids.

Canadian War Museum

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Address: 1 Vimy Pl, Ottawa, ON K1A 0M8

Contact details: +1 800-555-5621

Opening hours: Friday to Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM; Thursday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday from 5 PM to 8 PM


The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s go-to spot to delve into military history. You’ll explore everything from wars on Canadian soil to the Cold War and even Canadian peace operations. 

Plus, there’s a focus on remembering military tragedies. You’ll be blown away by the museum’s impressive collection of large artifacts, including guns, tanks, aircraft, and artillery. 

And get this—they’ve got hands-on activities and neat audio/visual displays to make history come alive! Don’t forget to grab a bite at the on-site café and check out the gift shop for souvenirs. 

Also, getting here is a breeze, whether you’re walking, biking, taking public transit, or driving (they’ve got paid parking on-site).

Pro tip: To get in for free, you’ll need a timed ticket. Just hop online and book your tickets as early as 5 pm on the Sunday before your visit. 

Bank of Canada Museum

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Address: 30 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G9

Contact details: +1 613-782-8914

Opening hours: Thursday to Monday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Free admission: Anytime


The Bank of Canada Museum used to be part of the Bank of Canada building, but now it’s got its own spot, linked to the main bank by a conference center.

Their mission? To demystify the world of banks, show how they’re tied to the Canadian government, and explore Canada’s money history. Plus, you’ll get to check out the National Currency Collection.

This place brings history to life with neat displays and multimedia. Think of interactive exhibits and stories that’ll grab your attention as you wander through.

Pro tip: They’ve got this simulator at the end where you can see how your everyday choices impact the global economy. It’s pretty eye-opening and perfect for sparking profound thinking, especially for the little ones!

Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum

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Address: 901 Prince of Wales Dr, Ottawa, ON K2C 3K1

Contact details: +1 613-991-3044

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Free admission: Every day from 4 PM to 5 PM


You won’t believe it, but the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum is like a real farm right smack in the city! They’re always tinkering with the latest farming tech and showing off how Canadian farming has evolved over the years.

Set on a National Heritage Site designated by the National Capital Commission, this farm is more than just animals and exhibits. Picture tons of live demonstrations, special events, and an outdoor discovery park filled with cutting-edge farming tech. 

It’s interactive and perfect for a picnic in the spacious park area. Enjoy the best of both worlds at this unique museum-farm combo! 

Pro tip: For added excitement, the facility offers a variety of fantastic exhibits. You’ll find interactive displays, hands-on activities, and live demonstrations to enjoy while you learn.

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

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Address: 11 Aviation Pkwy, Ottawa, ON K1K 2X5

Contact details: +1 613-991-3044

Opening hours: Thursday to Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Free admission: Every day from 4 PM to 5 PM


The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum is where you’ll find Canada’s national aviation collection, housing a diverse range of civilian and military aircraft. Fun fact: It’s also home to its very own Squadron of Royal Canadian Air Cadets!

On this former military base, you can find a museum packed with over 130 aircraft and artifacts. Be sure to check out the Avro Arrow exhibit—it’s got the biggest surviving pieces of this legendary aircraft.

And guess what? They’re not just about planes – they also have space displays, like the Canadarm from the Space Shuttle Endeavour. 

For an extra thrill, the museum offers flight simulations, helicopter flights, and biplane rides (availability varies and may involve an additional fee). So, if you’re into aviation and space, this spot’s a must-visit!

Pro tip:
To get to the Museum, you can take OC Transpo route 25, but not all buses on this route go directly there. 

Another option is to take route 7, which will bring you to St Laurent Boulevard and Hemlock Road intersection. From there, it’s about a 1.4-kilometre walk eastward along Hemlock Road to reach the Museum.

Watson’s Mill

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Address: 5525 Dickinson St, Manotick, ON K4M 1A2

Contact details: +1 613-692-6455

Opening hours: May 18 – September 2: Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; September 7 – October 13: Saturday to Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; October 14 – December 31: Special Events Only

Free admission: Admission by Donation (suggested: $2), Under 12 are Free


Watson’s Mill is a standout among Ottawa’s museums. The mill itself is like stepping back in time to Ottawa’s industrial roots, highlighting how milling tech from the 1800s played a crucial role in the city’s growth and in shaping what it’s become today.

During the milling season from May to October, you can grab some of their fresh stone-ground whole wheat flour. 

And here’s a neat detail: even after the milling season ends, you might still snag some flour while supplies last. It’s a little piece of history you can take home with you!

Pro tip: During milling demonstrations, there’s a lot of noise inside the building. It might be loud, especially for kids or anyone sensitive to sound, so consider using ear protection.

Canadian Museum of History

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Address: 100 Laurier St, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M8

Contact details: +1 819-776-7000

Opening hours: Tuesday to Wednesday and Friday to Sunday: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM; Thursday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Free admission: Thursday from 5 PM to 7 PM


The Canadian Museum of History is a melting pot where history, art, and interactive displays come together for a memorable experience. What really sets it apart is how it blends these different elements, giving you a deep dive into Canada’s past in an interesting way—unlike your typical history class.

As you wander, you’ll see how the museum showcases the diverse stories of the country. 

Whether you’re exploring the Indigenous Peoples Hall and learning about the vibrant cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities or diving into the Canadian History Hall to uncover pivotal moments in the nation’s journey, there’s a wealth of discoveries awaiting you.

Every plaque in the Canadian History Hall tells a fascinating story about Canada’s past, giving you an inclusive view. It’s like getting inside a movie through time that’s both informative and exciting, making history feel alive and immersive.

Pro tip: You can enjoy free admission on Thursdays from 5 PM to 7 PM, but make sure to grab a timed ticket. Book it online starting at 5 PM on the Sunday of the week you plan to visit.