Dr. Alan Viau

The Museum of Civilization – A Diamond Wedding Destination Venue

We are very fortunate in the Ottawa area to host several outstanding museums who welcome weddings.  The Museum of Civilization is Canada‘s largest museum and is a a stupendous venue. Like a beautiful diamond, the museum has many facets and I was thrilled to discover new ones.

The new Museum of Civilization opened in June 1989 with a mission “To increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of and appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behaviour…” I perform several weddings there every year and have always enjoyed my experience there.  I met with Francine Lapointe, Facilities Manager who gave me a guided tour.

As we walked around the Museum of Civilization, Francine related that the number of weddings at the museum has increased from only twelve in 2006 to forty in 2012. Their goal is to reach 50 weddings per year. The museum offers a complete wedding coordination and in-house catering to make it easy for brides and grooms.

Many couples make the museum a destination wedding venue as they come to Ottawa for their wedding. She finds that about half of the bookings have both the ceremony and reception at the museum – a trend Francine feels is increasing as Canada becomes more of a mixed culture. She feels this is a positive trend and reflects the mandate of the museum to celebrate civilizations and our culture.

The museum’s architecture is inspired by Canada’s natural environment of Canadian shield rock, glaciers, waters and plains. From our rocks come wonderful diamonds that are cut to have many facets. Similarly the museum has many facets and areas where wedding can be celebrated.

The Grand Hall is the showpiece for the museum. Its large space can easily accommodate 400 people. It is an amazing experience to be among the totem poles overseeing the Ottawa River.

The museum has carefully designed a sound and lighting system for this large space.  It is gratifying to use a sound amplification system that ensures a great voice quality during the ceremony.

The Panorama Room is another popular venue that holds about 100 people.  The advantage of this room, aside the from the glorious view of Parliament Hill, is that you can quickly switch from outdoor to indoors. Since it is separate from the museum’s collections, you can gain access to it before closing.

The Canada Hall is an exhibit which traces Canada’s history from the Normans to this era from the East coast to the West coast.  If a couple is looking for a really unqiue venue – this is it. They have full access to the exhibit. It is a great idea for a 50 person cocktail style wedding. The bride and groom can be married in New France

and stroll over to Ontario Street for the cocktail reception.

The Northern and Southern Rooms were a surprise to me. They are two rooms with amazing cathedral ceilings that can be custom lighted for the occasion.  The bride and groom can be married in the Northern room and move over to the Southern room for their reception. The Southern room has a dance floor and can accommodate 200 people.

The Museum of Civilization is visited by over a million people per year. It certainly was buzzing with school kids when I was there. Last year I performed two weddings an hour apart, at the Panorama Room and in the Grand Hall, both flawless executed with the help of the museum staff. As a wedding venue it is a superb location with lots to offer and growing in popularity.

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