Free museums, art galleries, and historic sites in Winnipeg, Manitoba
After living through long, cold winters, Manitobans love their summers. And there is plenty to do in its capital city, Winnipeg, during the summer months. And lots of it is free.
This is the first of three posts dedicated to free things to do in Winnipeg in the summer. To find out about other free activities, visit Free Winnipeg Parks and Outdoor Activities and Free Summer Concerts and Festivals in Winnipeg.
The 12 hectare Living Prairie Museum is home to over 160 species of native plants. Walk through the preserve and learn about the plants and their habitat. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily in July and August, and Sundays only in May and June.
Learn about the importance of the railway in Winnipeg’s history as well as other Transcona history at the Transcona Historical Museum. Transcona was its own city prior to amalgamation with Winnipeg in 1972 and home to railway repair shops.
The Forks National Historical Site of Canada is a 9 acre riverside park presenting the 6,000 year-old history of human activity at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. There are interpretive exhibits, walking trails, and a native prairie garden.
The Saint Boniface Cathedral and cemetery is a historical landmark in Winnipeg’s French quarter. The 1906 stone basilica was destroyed in a 1968 fire, leaving only the facade, sacristy, and walls. A new church has been built behind the stone facade featuring stained glass windows designed by Étienne Gaboury. Both the remains of the old cathedral and the new church can be viewed. Keep in mind, however, that this is an active congregation with regularly scheduled services. Louis Riel, founder of Manitoba, is buried in the cemetery.
First Fridays in the Exchange District runs the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Established at the turn of the 20th century, The Exchange District is a National Historic Site of Canada and was the original centre of commerce and culture in the city. Today, it houses specialty retailers, restaurants, art galleries, nightclubs, theatres, a college, other businesses, and condos. On First Fridays, various artists open up their studios to the public. You can view their works, see how they work, and talk to the artists.
Assiniboine Park offers Art in the Park. The Pavilion Gallery Museum features works by three Manitoba artists – Ivan Eyre, Clarence Tillenius, and Wlater J. Phillips – as well as a collection of Winnie the Pooh artifacts. The Leo Mol Sculpture Garden is a quiet retreat featuring the works of master sculptor Leo Mol.
The Manitoba Electrical Museum provides a journey through Manitoba’s electrical history.The museum is open Monday through Thursday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The Winnipeg Police Museum displays artifacts relating to the history of the Winnipeg Police Force since its inception in 1874. The museum is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Some admission-charging museums offer at least one free day throughout the year. The galleries at the Manitoba Museum highlight human and natural history. Free days include admission to the Planetarium and the Science Gallery. The next scheduled free day is Saturday, May 10, 2014 in honour of Manitoba Day, which occurs May 12. The Winnipeg Art Gallery and the St. Boniface Museum have both scheduled free days in the past on Louis Riel Day, which occurs in February.
Fellow Winnipeggers: do you know of another free museum to add to this list? If you are not from Winnipeg, do you have a favourite free museum in your home town?