The Redpath Museum, one of Canada's oldest free-standing museums, functions as a unique interdisciplinary unit within the Faculty of Science of McGill University.
The Museum preserves and displays large collections of ancient and modern organisms, minerals, and world culture artefacts. As an academic unit it serves as a centre for the teaching and writing of science, as well as a research centre for the history of life and biodiversity of the planet.
Research at the Redpath museum is focused on evolution, from working out the details of the history of life on the Earth to examining how creatures and systems are changing today. Museum courses include Science Writing, offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as a museum studies course, Science and Museums, which focuses on the history of research and management of natural history collections. Courses are taught in several departments such as Biology or the School of the Environment, or Anthropology, and yet in the museum by videoconference from the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at Macdonald College.
At the graduate level, students wanting to study biosystematics and evolutionary biology can find several supervisors working on a variety of topics. Students from other, related departments can also be supported by the museum.
Exhibits and public programming
Exhibits at the Redpath Museum focus on natural history, ethnology, and mineralogy. Popular specimens include dinosaurs, shells, mummies and a wide variety of Quebec minerals.
A public programme includes activities such as documentary films, public lectures, Sunday discovery workshops for children and tours inside and outside of the museum.
Among the exhibits, visitors will find whales, seals and sea turtles alongside extinct marine reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs, including ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and marine crocodiles. Together these animals show the diversity of form and function in secondarily aquatic vertebrates. The Entrance Hall also includes a general introduction to the exhibits, centred around a diorama depicting the sea floor in the region of Montreal during the Ordovician period, 450 million years ago.
The exhibits in the Dawson Gallery are about the geological history and biological diversity of Quebec from the earliest times down to the present. Material from other parts of Canada is also included. This exhibit uses fossil specimens from the Museum collections to show some of the most remarkable events in the history of life on our planetm from the earliest trace fossils in the Ediacaran of Newfoundland, to the strange creatures of the Burgess Shale that arose from the Cambrian explosion in the Rocky Mountains; from the Devonian expansion of life from the sea onto land at Miguasha, the Gaspé, and Joggins, Nova Scotia to the rise of the dinosaurs in western Canada.
Quebec biodiversity comprises all forms of life on Earth: mammals, reptiles, plants, insects, fungi, bacteria, algae and humans as well. Species must constantly interact with one another simply to continue to exist. This exhibit about Quebec's Biodiversity increases awareness of and re-asserts respect for the province's natural environment. At the back of the Dawson Gallery, near the windows.
Recently donated by the Estate of the late Dr. Bruce Trigger (McGill Anthropology), and his wife Dr. Barbara Welch (McGill Geography), a handwritten letter and photogravure from 1877 form the centrepiece of an exhibit about Darwin's connections to McGill Univeresity.
There are approximately one thousand cultural objects (household and ceremonial items, ornaments, musical instruments) displayed in the Museum’s World Cultures (Ethnology) Gallery, including archaeological material from ancient Egypt, the Mediterranean, and Mesoamerica, and 19th and 20th century artefacts from Asia, Oceania, South America, and Africa. Many of these objects have been in McGill University’s collections for over one hundred years. The Egyptian exhibits feature two New Kingdom mummies circa 1500 BCE, a Ptolemaic mummy (330-30 BCE), several mummified animals, and an interactive computer display on mummies and Ancient Egypt.
A Geological garden can be found outside the Museum. This rock garden contains samples of minerals and fossils from Canada.
Adresse of the Redpath Museum :
859 Sherbrooke Street West
Phone : 514-398-4086
Redpath Museum Web Site: mcgill.ca/redpath
Redpath Museum building. Photo: © Provincequebec.com
Geological Garden. Photo: © Provincequebec.com