I lived in Toronto for years before I finally made it to the Ontario Science Centre. First I didn’t know it existed, then I didn’t know where it was, and then it just took me forever to find time to travel that far on the subway and bus. It’s not downtown, where everything else is, but in a residential neighbourhood – and I never needed to be there.
But when I did finally make it, it was awesome, and I made a point of coming back a few times. The science centre was built in the 1960s, and uses its surroundings really well. It’s on a hill, with some sections at the top, and others further downhill. The parts are connected with hallways that vaguely remind me equally of a spaceship and my elementary school. It’s difficult to explain…
The hillside location gives the science centre a lot of space to do interesting things. There’s obviously an IMAX theatre, because that’s what all science centres have these days.
Outside the entrance is a giant hydraulaphone, designed by local inventor Steve Mann. It’s a fountain that makes music, and you control it by closing particular water streams.
There’s also an entire section where I’ve never been because I’m not allowed inside: adults can only enter it if they’re accompanied by a child, and I didn’t know any children of the right age.
It’s a bit hard to find any information on the permanent exhibits on the site (it’s here – took me a while), because it’s all focused on themes and events. The museum hosts rotating exhibits, and they seem to be getting all the attention. For example, I saw Body Worlds here a couple of years ago.
Speaking of moving exhibits, the Ontario Science Centre rents out some of its own original exhibitions. Among the collection of exhibits they offer to other science centres is my favourite OSC exhibit, about living on Mars! I went there with friends, and we had a great time practicing our survival skills. There was one display where you had to try to get a solar panel to produce as much energy as possible, using only a bunch of random objects. After lots of puzzling, we managed to get it up to about 99%, woo!
Another fun hands-on part of the museum is the Weston Family Innovation Centre, although, like in other popular parts of the science centre, things often start to move away from science. I’m not sure how I feel about that, especially considering this part gets a lot of media and attention, and is easy to find on the site. I know a lot of science museums are branching out, but it would be nice to also focus on the science exhibits.