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Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada

91 Banff Avenue, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, T0L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/06/17

Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
Exterior Photo
General view showing the stepped massing defined by the wide bracketed veranda, hipped roof form of the main block, and the lantern set at the top of the roof.; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada / Kahli April
General view.
Interior view of the museum; Parks Canada | Parcs Canada / Kahli April
Interior view of the museum

Other Name(s)

Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada
Banff Park Museum
Musée du Parc-Banff

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1902/01/01 to 1903/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is a two-storey, rustic log-faced building set prominently within a landscaped park in the Banff townsite. The double-height interior space displays early botanical and zoological exhibits from Banff National Park in early twentieth-century glass cases.

Heritage Value

Banff Park Museum was designated a National Historic Site in 1985 because:
- this 'museum of museums' developed by Norman Bethune Sanson reflects an early approach to the interpretation of natural history in Canada, and
- its architectural style and detailing is so characteristic of early federal buildings in the Park.

The heritage value of Banff Park Museum resides in its setting, architecture, and in the early (1891-1932) exhibits it houses. Banff Park Museum was designed and built in 1902-03 as a combined museum and Superintendent's Office for Banff National Park by engineer John Stocks. Although the museum remained, other functions in the building changed after 1936. Many of its original exhibits were declared surplus in the 1955-65 period. The building was rehabilitated in the 1980s and 1990s.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, June 1985 Minutes; Commemorative Integrity Statement, December 1994.

Character-Defining Elements

Aspects of this site which contribute to its heritage values include:
- the prominent siting between Banff Avenue and the river;
- setting within the traditional landscaping of its Central Park grounds;
- the stepped massing defined by the wide bracketed veranda, hipped roof form of the main block, and the lantern set at the top of the roof;
- use of the 'rustic' aesthetic with crossed-log motif for exterior detailing, projecting shingled bays on the mezzanine level;
- provision of natural light with generously sized windows and clerestory;
- unobstructed interior space created by a cantilevered truss system supporting the second floor and roof;
- the original functional layout of the interior such as the open mezzanine and staircase;
- all original interior materials and details (wood finish, trim and detailing);
- early (1891-1932) artifacts reflecting Victorian and Edwardian museum practice (exhibit collections and cases, curatorial tools, display furniture and equipment, reading room furniture, original documentary material);
- the arrangement, presentation and layout of exhibits reflecting a 1914 museological approach;
- its continued public use as a museum of museums;
- viewplanes to the Bow River, the bridge, its approaches, and to downtown Banff.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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