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You’ll soon be able to see these hidden gems at Ingenium’s new storage space

Only a small fraction of artifacts at a museum are ever on display, leaving a vast trove hidden from public view. Now, the newly built Ingenium Centre is gearing up to unlock Canada’s stories of science and innovation through public access to its one-of-a-kind national collection.

You might have seen the massive building next to the Science and Technology Museum – but only from the outside.

“Inside, there are stories of Canada’s innovation in science and technology history brought to life,” says Christina Tessier, Ingenium President and CEO.

Ingenium oversees three national museums in Ottawa — the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The lngenium Centre houses an exceptional collection of artifacts, a research institute, and a digital innovation lab.

It looks like a warehouse, but this is where items not normally seen by the public are stored. Museums typically can only show a fraction of their collections at any one time.

“When we think about the idea that museums generally have less than 10 per cent of their collections on display, we want to make sure that this collection is more accessible to Canadians,” says Tessier.

The brand new facility will be accessible by guided tours or on special days, such as Doors Open Ottawa in June, according to Tessier.

Inside, there are cars, like a Thunderbird that was owned by Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings; a sample of the oldest water on earth, the last built steam locomotive, and the oldest book in the collection, published in 1561.

Emily Gann, Ingenium curation division director, holds a sample of billion year old water. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

“So this building ensures that we can preserve the collection for generations. It’s purpose built. There’s temperature, humidity, control,” Emily Gann, director of Ingenium’s curatorial division, told CTV News Ottawa during a recent media preview.

“Every artifact number has a location. So when we look up in our database, say we’re looking for that locomotive that’s downstairs, we can see exactly where it is in the building or if it’s in the museum or if it’s out on loan,” says Gann. “So it’s kind of broken down by weight and size. And then some of our artifact rooms are much more specialized where it’s broken down by subject area so that everything that belongs in the dentistry collection, for example, can all be found in one area.”

Details about how you can tour the facility will be announced by Ingenium at a later date, “It’s really exciting to be able to open the doors and welcome people in like we’ve never been able to do,” said Gann.

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