Montréal's Nature Museums Present Their Life Plan, the Biodiversity Centre
and Sketches of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

MONTREAL, Sept. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Montréal's Nature Museums launched their 2009-2017 Business Plan / Life Plan today. The Plan aims to change the way people look at nature, by offering visitors experiences combining science and emotions. Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, Helen Fotopulos, Executive Committee member responsible for Mount Royal, nature parks and large parks, the Nature Museums and the status of women, Luc Vinet, Rector of the Université de Montréal, and Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, Director of Montréal's Nature Museums, announced the five major projects in this Life Plan, which will allow the Nature Museums to become the first place in the world dedicated to humankind and nature. A number of these projects are already well underway. Today the Biodiversity Centre of the Université de Montréal was announced and the sketches of the future Montréal Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium were unveiled at the ceremony.

For Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, "This project is in line with Montréal's characteristic daring and creativity. It will enhance the city's reputation around the world, and confirm its commitment to culture, knowledge, sustainable development and biodiversity."

"By creating a visitor experience that obliges us to rethink our perceptions of the world, the Nature Museums are hoping to become a regular part of Montrealers' daily lives and a destination for people from around the globe. We are looking to infuse them with a new way of living, to offer a place where the visitor is the hero," Mr. Brunelle, Director of the Nature Museums, explained.

The first place in the world dedicated to humankind and nature

Inspired by the Manifesto drawn up jointly by Nature Museums employees early this year, this first place in the world dedicated to humankind and nature will mean redeploying the institutions and creating a vast public square.

Starting in 2010, on the Botanical Garden site, the Biodiversity Centre of the Université de Montréal will bring together extensive collections of insects, fungi and plants, some fifty researchers and a museum zone highlighting the importance of different species for the very survival of humanity. In 2012, the new Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, built to LEED Platinum standards, will be inviting visitors to travel to the ends of the Universe in its new immersive theatres. Next, a Human Ecosystem will lead visitors on an excursion above the Biodôme's ecosystems, an immersive, moving and hands-on experience helping them to better see and understand our role in nature. The Nature Museums Esplanade linking the four institutions will offer a new way of getting around, gathering, occupying space, building, and enjoying everyday life. Its design is still in the planning stages, but will be based on public input. Lastly, the Metamorphosis project at the Insectarium will let visitors experience the world in the skin of an insect, giving them a greater understanding of insects' role in nature.

An investment in the economy and society

The Nature Museums' 2009-2017 Business Plan / Life Plan calls for total investment of $189 million, of which $74.5 million is earmarked for projects already underway: the Planetarium and the Biodiversity Centre. It will allow the Nature Museums not only to achieve their mission, but also to boost their attendance from the current 1.65 million visitors to 2.65 million by 2017. This development plan will enhance Montréal's built and cultural heritage and help to revitalize places that have historically contributed to building the city's international reputation, while encouraging residents and other local stakeholders to get involved.

A Biodiversity Centre: No time to waste

Scientists agree that 25 to 50% of all species will disappear before the end of the century. Moreover, barely one-twentieth of our planet's biodiversity has been described so far. The Biodiversity Centre, an initiative of the Université de Montréal in partnership with the Botanical Garden and the Insectarium, will be created with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Québec Government. The project will have four basic objectives: to enhance and conserve extensive research collections of plants, insects and fungi; to share resources, knowledge and expertise so as to advance scientific research; to encourage knowledge transfer and access to information, and to increase public awareness of major biodiversity issues. The Centre, located on the grounds of the Botanical Garden, will be housed in a building designed to LEED Gold standards by the architectural firm of Provencher Roy et associés, featuring exhibitions that will awaken visitors to the impact of their interactions with nature.

"Today's announcement marks a new chapter in the long and fruitful relationship between the Université de Montréal and the Botanical Garden, dating right back to the founding of the Garden by a professor from the University, Brother Marie-Victorin," noted Luc Vinet, Rector of the University, when the project was introduced. "It also confirms the importance for us of excellence in scientific research and of sharing our research findings with the public."

First glimpse of the sketches for the future Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

The launch of the Nature Museums' Life Plan was also the opportunity to unveil the first sketches of the future Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, produced by the winning firm in the architectural competition, Cardin Ramirez Julien, and their partners Ædifica_Architecture + Design, SNC Lavalin, Dupras Ledoux ingénieurs, and Fauteux et Associés Architectes Paysagistes.

A true oasis of greenery in the midst of this concrete space, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium will be set between the Olympic Stadium and the Biodôme. It will meet LEED Platinum standards, the highest in green construction standards. Two huge tubes pointed skyward, emerging from a green roof, will evoke observation instruments, like telescopes gazing out into the Universe. At their base, spheres representing stars will house the two star theatres, each offering unique visitor experiences. All three levels of the building will receive abundant natural light, with a view of a wooded area and new green spaces.

The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium has been made possible with the financial support of the city of Montréal, Canada Economic Development, the Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation du Québec and Rio Tinto Alcan.

Helen Fotopulos, Executive Committee member responsible for Mount Royal, nature parks and large parks, the Nature Museums and the status of women, concluded the launch of this huge initiative by saluting "the Nature Museums' vision. What they are proposing amounts to nothing less than collectively inventing a new way of living, a challenge that Montrealers are ready to accept and that is sure to inspire communities all over the globe."

For more information on the Business Plan / Life Plan, the Biodiversity Centre and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, see www.museumsnature.ca.

    
    Montréal's Nature Museums - the Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden
        and Planetarium - helping people enjoy nature to the fullest.
    

SOURCE MONTREAL'S NATURE MUSEUMS

For further information: For further information: Karine Jalbert, Communications Co-ordinator, Montréal's Nature Museums, (514) 872-1453, karinejalbert@ville.montreal.qc.ca; Source: Martin Tremblay, Press Attaché, Office of the Mayor and the Executive Committee, (514) 872-0274

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