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Museum of Natural History

91 Banff Avenue, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/06/10

General view of the Museum of Natural History, showing the walls of crossed-log veneer with protruding shingled bays at the mezzanine level.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Museum of Natural History
Banff Museum
Musée de Banff
Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada
Lieu historique national du Canada du Musée-du-Parc-Banff

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1902/01/01 to 1903/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/11/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Museum of Natural History, also known as Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada or simply the Banff Museum, is a log building of impressive size clearly intended as a showpiece for Banff National Park of Canada. At two storeys high, it has a distinctive shape composed of crossed-log facades with protruding shingled bays at the mezzanine level and a layering of shingled roof surfaces moving from the wide bracketed verandah eaves to the hip roof to the large central lantern. On the interior, the lantern provides natural light to both the mezzanine gallery and the ground floor. The interior is finished throughout in wood. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Museum of Natural History is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, as well as its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Banff Natural History Museum opened in 1895 and moved to the present building in 1903. This building is the oldest surviving building in the town of Banff, and, more significantly, the oldest surviving building constructed by the federal government for the Rocky Mountains Park (now Banff National Park of Canada), Canada's first national park.

Architectural Value
The 1903 museum building was the largest and most elaborate product of the early phase of park design to use decorative log construction. The two-storey, wood-frame building was designed in a rustic, Swiss style of architecture, distinguished by its crossed-log wall pattern executed in British Colombia fir. It displays unique approaches to the functional requirements of museum design of the period. The high quality of materials and craftsmanship throughout indicate that the building was clearly intended as a showpiece for the park.

Environmental Value
The distinctive appearance of the museum has always made it a local landmark, and its style and setting contribute strongly to the period character of the town. Furthermore, its prime location and important function reflect the aim of early parks officials to give a consistent architectural image to the Park.

Sources: Ted Mills & Janet Wright, The Banff Museum, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, Federal Heritage Review Office, Building Report 85-010; The Banff Museum, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 85-010.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Museum of Natural History should be respected.

Its good aesthetic and very good functional design, and good craftsmanship and materials, as illustrated in:
- the exterior façades and setting, and the publicly accessible areas of the interior;
- the distinctive shape of the exterior, with a layering of shingled roof surfaces moving from the wide bracketed veranda eaves to the hip roof to the large central lantern;
- the walls of crossed-log veneer with protruding shingled bays at the mezzanine level;
- the interior lantern, which provides natural light to both the mezzanine gallery and the ground floor;
- the wood finish, trim and detailing, including display cases and other furnishings, which are, for the most part original to the building.

The manner in which the Museum contributes to with the picturesque character of Banff National Park of Canada as evidenced in:
- its importance as the oldest surviving building in the town of Banff and as the oldest surviving building constructed by the federal government for the Rocky Mountains Park (now Banff National Park of Canada), Canada's first national park;
- its style and setting, and its importance as a local landmark, which contribute strongly to the period character of the town;
- its importance as a showpiece for Banff National Park of Canada.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date

1986/06/10

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Architect / Designer

John Stocks

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

2541

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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