Set in a riverside building which was once a textile factory, just a few steps away from Wellington street and its array of cafés and restaurants, the Sherbrooke Museum of Nature and Science is a great way to spend an afternoon of wonder and discovery. You can find out about current exhibitions here, although the permanent installations are in themselves worth the trip.

Choose your own adventure

Showcasing the Museum’s impressive taxidermy collection, AlterAnima presents unusual groupings of animals from all over the world in an effort to compare and contrast their traits and behaviors. As there is little written information within the space, this is a case of the audiovisual guide being not an addition to, but a crucial part of the exhibition experience. Luckily, the tablet-supported guide is well-made and truly interesting. Best of all, it offers different ways to explore the exhibition based on the visitor’s interests.

Will you follow the “nature enthusiast” as he discusses the theme of each grouping and offers more in-depth information about chosen specimens? Will you instead focus on the Museum’s conservation practices and history as told by the “night watchman”? Or would you rather listen to Emily, a young environmentalist, as she reflects on the way animals’ lives are affected by our treatment of them as well as by changes in their habitat? Like-minded visitors will be glad to hear that Emily’s environmentalist commentary is at times fairly hard-hitting; not the watered-down, institution-friendly version one might expect to come across in museums. All three guides include complementary photos, audio, and video material, as well as varying degrees of interactivity.

Last but not least, the “Seek and Find” option of the guide, geared toward families, is perfect for anyone who isn’t keen to follow along quietly from one station to the next. It invites visitors young and old to pay attention to details they might otherwise have missed. Parents will also be happy to find play spaces integrated into the layout of the exhibition.

Multisensory wild ride

Terra Mutantès is a unique multisensory experience that takes visitors on a geological wild ride, spanning hundreds of millions of years in the space of half an hour. An original creation of the Museum, it tells the story of the land Sherbrooke now stands on, through deep ocean and ice age until present day. Little ones will revel in the special effects while older kids and adults will no doubt be fascinated by these facts so far removed from our lives they sometimes feel like fiction.

Finally, a visit to the Museum wouldn’t be complete without a trip downstairs to try the earthquake and tornado simulators, which do a great job of making science very tangible and experiential.

This is a Museum that knows how to cater to their diverse audience and will spark the curiosity of anyone who wanders in.