Ontario Science Centre

Coordinates: 43°43′00″N 79°20′18″W / 43.71667°N 79.33833°W / 43.71667; -79.33833
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Ontario Science Centre
The OSC encompasses an IMAX Dome theatre
Ontario Science Centre is located in Toronto
Ontario Science Centre
Location of the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto
Former name
Centennial Museum of Science and Technology
EstablishedSeptember 26, 1969 (1969-09-26)
Location770 Don Mills Road
Toronto, Ontario
M3C 1T3
Coordinates43°43′00″N 79°20′18″W / 43.71667°N 79.33833°W / 43.71667; -79.33833
TypeScience centre
AccreditationAssociation of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
CEOPaul Kortenaar
ArchitectRaymond Moriyama
OwnerGovernment of Ontario
Public transit access  25   34   100   925 
Science Centre (opening 2024)
Science Centre (opening 2031)

The Ontario Science Centre (OSC, originally the Centennial Museum of Science and Technology) is a science museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located near the Don Valley Parkway about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) northeast of downtown on Don Mills Road in the former city of North York. It is built down the side of a wooded ravine formed by one branch of the Don River located in Flemingdon Park.

On April 23, 2023, Premier of Ontario Doug Ford announced the Ontario government's general plan to replace the Ontario Science Centre with a smaller new institution on the Toronto waterfront.[2][3] The controversial proposal has aroused significant opposition.[2][3][4][5]


Planning for the Science Centre started in 1961 during Toronto's massive expansion of the late 1950s and 1960s.[6] In August 1964, Premier of Ontario John Robarts announced the creation of the Centennial Centre of Science and Technology as a Centennial Project.[7] Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama was hired to design the site. Construction started in 1966 with plans to open the Centennial Centre of Science and Technology as part of the Canadian Centennial celebrations in 1967.[8]

However, construction was not completed in 1967, and the Science Centre did not open to the public until two years later, on September 26, 1969.[9] The official opening was held on the morning of September 27 and attended by VIPs, and was followed by opening to 30,000 invited guests in early afternoon.[7] It opened to the general public on September 28, drawing 9,000 visitors.[7] Its advertising slogan at launch was "Come see what would happen if Albert Einstein and Walt Disney had gotten together."[7]

The buildings and design were part of a broader change in Canadian architecture,[10] and remain an example of the brutalist style.[3]

When it first opened, the Science Centre was a pioneer for its hands-on approach to science, along with San Francisco's Exploratorium and the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. Unlike a traditional museum, where exhibits are for viewing only, the majority of the exhibits at the Science Centre were interactive, while many others were live demonstrations (e.g. metalworking). The Communications room contained a number of computerized displays, including a very popular tic-tac-toe game, run on a PDP-11 minicomputer.

By 1974, it hosted about 250,000 students on field trips annually.[11]: 82 

In 1990, the Ontario Science Centre announced a contract with Oman to design a children's museum. The Ontario Science Centre had agreed to boycott Israeli goods and services while under contract.[12] The Ontario Science Centre later amended the contract to specify that all goods sold to Oman would be produced in North America.[13] The centre's Director General Mark Abbott was later fired for knowingly signing the original contract.[14]

In 2001, the Centre embarked on a capital project called "Agents of Change", which focused on innovation and renewed about 85% of the Centre's public space, including the creation of seven new experience areas. The Centre received $47.5 million in contributions from the government of Ontario, private sector companies, and individuals. The Agents of Change transformation was completed 2007, culminating with the opening of the Weston Family Innovation Centre and the Teluscape plaza.[15]

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, the Science Centre received $500,000 from the Government of Canada to promote COVID-19 vaccine uptake among children and their families.[16]

Due to structural decay, the pedestrian bridge have been closed

Due to structural decay which required closing of the pedestrian bridge leading to the exhibits, a shuttle bus line temporarily runs, bringing people from the main entrance to Level 6, the main exhibits area at the bottom of a ravine.[17][18] The detour uses Mercedes and Ford custom-built minibuses. As of 2023, plans to rebuild or replace the decayed bridge have not been announced.

On 18 April 2023, Doug Ford, premier of the province of Ontario, announced the provincial government's plan to replace the existing Science Centre with a new institution on the Toronto waterfront. This location would be on the grounds of Ontario Place, a former theme park.[2][19][3] The relocation plan has triggered widespread backlash from many community and professional groups.[2][3][4] The proposed new location would be substantially smaller than the current one, requiring the Science Centre to downsize[19] and potentially remove certain exhibits.[5] Moreover, the relocation would create a naming conflict with Line 5 Eglinton's yet-to-be-opened Science Centre station.[20]

The municipal government of Toronto strongly opposes the Ontario provincial demolition plans, and is investigating alternative ways to continue museum operations in the current location.[5] The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) and Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) have issued separate statements opposing the demolition of the original buildings.[21]



Procter & Gamble Great Hall
OMNIMAX Theatre Entrance
Aerial view of the building

Designed in the early 1960s, the original buildings incorporate Brutalist designs. The building complex is made up of three main buildings connected by a series of bridges and escalators set in a parkland of over 100 acres.[11]: 78  The buildings were constructed while avoiding removal or damage to the mature trees in the area, so that "the buildings seem to fit naturally into their environment".[11]: 78  They follow the natural contours of the Don River ravine, into which the Centre descends. Ontario's only IMAX Dome theatre opened in 1996.[22]

The Great Hall is an event venue at the Ontario Science Centre and is home to Cloud, a massive, computer-controlled kinetic sculpture by Toronto installation artist David Rokeby, which consists of an array of blue and transparent squares that rotate in various ways to simulate the three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas.[23]

For most of the time since opening in 1969, the Science Centre has hosted a demonstration amateur radio station.[24] Formerly located in the Hall of Space, the station is now located on Level 4 of the Centre, next to the elevator.[25] The station has the call sign "VE3OSC",[26] and licensed amateur radio operators volunteer there daily from 10 am to 3 pm.


Teluscape, an outdoor plaza next to the main entrance with interactive exhibits

Lotic Meander by Stacey Levy is an outdoor installation in polished and blasted granite and cast glass set into the solar terrace of the Ontario Science Centre. The work depicts the patterns of water as it moves through a stream bed.[27] In 2007, the Ontario Science Centre unveiled the Teluscape Exploration Plaza, providing several interactive exhibits adjacent to the science centre's exterior main entrance.

FUNtain Aquatic Play[edit]

World's largest outdoor hydraulophone, which is publicly accessible 24 hours-a-day

As originally built, the Science Centre had a large fountain area directly in front of the entranceway, located to create a traffic roundabout. The fountain virtually screened views of the building from the street, and provided cooling for the building.[11]: 78  The original water fountain has been rejuvenated to provide a more welcoming and accessible entrance to the Science Centre. The new plaza, named "Teluscape", was designed by Reich + Petch Architects and EDA Collaborative. It opened to the public on September 20, 2006, and is accessible 24 hours a day.

The new fountain is also a hydraulophone designed by installation artist Steve Mann. It is a hydraulic-action pipe organ which can be played by anyone walking into the space. Blocking the flow of any one of the 57 water jets in the fountain forces the water across to a corresponding organ pipe, where it makes a loud sound as the water is forced out through the speaking mouth of the pipe. The lowest 12 notes in each pipe division of the organ are visible as pipes arranged in a circle. The North Division consists of stopped hydrapasons (similar to diapasons but running on water rather than air), whereas the South Division pipes are open at both ends (sound emerges from the ends rather than from a mouth as with the North pipes). The North organ console consists of 12 water jets, whereas the south console consists of 45 water jets.

The organ is supplied with water from three Pentair pumps, supplying water at a rate of 130 US gallons per minute (8.2 L/s), each by way of a 3 inches (7.6 cm) diameter water line. Air is supplied from three Ingersol Rand four-cylinder air compressors, each having a 25 horsepower (19 kW) motor. Since the instrument runs on both air and water, it may be regarded as a hybrid hydraulophone and pneumatophone, but because it is played by blocking water jets rather than air holes, it is principally a hydraulophone.

The fountain must be shut down and drained to avoid freezing damage during the cold season. On November 21, 2007, the aquatic play facility was temporarily switched from water operation to air operation, effectively becoming perhaps one of the first pneumatic-play facilities, where visitors can frolic in a fountain of air jets. In this mode of operation, the fountain becomes a wind instrument. The hydraulophone may not be operational during the winter months.

As of 2023, the hydraulophone has not been operational, due to algae buildup, leaks, and pump problems.


Ontario Science Centre Level 6 Hot Zone

The Science Centre has hosted a number of traveling exhibits since its opening. In 1982, the exhibition China: 7,000 Years of Discovery broke all attendance records and attracted more than 1.5 million visitors.[22]

In 2003, the Strange Matter exhibition opened,[28] and the Body Worlds 2 exhibition attracted almost half a million visitors over five months when it came to the Centre in 2005.[22] The exhibition Facing Mars ran in 2008.[29] The Centre hosted Harry Potter: The Exhibition, a collection of props from the film series in 2010.[30] Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop (2011) featured physical models of da Vinci's inventions, built from drawings in his Codices. It also included interactive touch-screen digital reproductions of his Codices, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.[31] Circus: The Exhibition ran in 2012.[32] Game On 2.0, a video game history exhibition, ran March 9 to September 2, 2013.[33]

In June 2014, the Centre welcomed The Science of Rock 'N' Roll, which explores how advances in science and technology have revolutionized music. The exhibition features eight areas that comprise different interactive components, historical artifacts, informational walls, documentary videos and more.[34] The exhibition was followed by In Knowledge We Trust (October 4 to December 7, 2014), which explored the role trust plays in making us willing to share or use the knowledge we receive.[35]

During summer 2015, the Centre hosted MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition, based on the popular television series MythBusters.[36] On June 4, 2016, the Centre hosted a one-day exhibit promoting the Nintendo 3DS game Kirby: Planet Robobot, which also featured activities pertaining to the Kirby video game series and a visit by a performer in a full Kirby costume.[37] In 2017, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada, the Centre opened the exhibition Canada 150: Discovery Way, featuring Canadian stories behind transformational inventions and innovations.

Permanent galleries and exhibits[edit]

Simulated rainforest

The science centre has several hundred interactive and passive permanent exhibits, featuring geology, the science of nature (in the west wing), astronomical science, how to play music and technology in the south wing, human anatomy, communication and bias, and some miscellaneous artifacts of science.

A Question of Truth[edit]

Level 5 A Question of Truth

A Question of Truth is an exhibit that explores the methodologies, biases, and beliefs of scientific research setup in 2000. The exhibit provides visitors an opportunity to test controversial theories.[38]

AstraZeneca Human Edge[edit]

Level 6 AstraZeneca Human Edge

The AstraZeneca Human Edge replaced the original human anatomy gallery, opened in December 2013 with sponsorship from AstraZeneca. In addition to detailing anatomy, the exhibit explores the possibilities of the human body with activities to simulate the experiences of adventure-seekers, elite athletes, and extreme-sports enthusiasts. There are more than 80 exhibits in the hall, which were all developed and built by the Science Centre's staff with input from more than 120 neuroscience, physiology, bio-mechanics and sports medicine experts.[39] The exhibit also features a climbing wall.[38]

Cohon Family Nature Escape[edit]

The Cohon Family Nature Escape is an outdoor exhibit, situated within the Don River Valley to the back of the science centre. The exhibit features a giant Baltimore oriole nest, concrete wall canvas for moss graffiti, and a playground slide made from a fallen 125-year-old eastern white pine.[38]

Forest Lane[edit]

Forest Lane houses a number of trees and tree trunks from across Canada. The exhibit includes a 464-year-old Douglas fir, with markings on its growth rings denoting notable world events during the tree's lifetime.[38]


Level 4 KidSpark

KidSpark is a designated space for children eight and under to explore and learn through play. The exhibition was opened in 2003.[40] The exhibition also has a rolling ball machine built by George Rhoads, and a music studio.[38]

Living Earth[edit]

The Bruce Poon Tip Living Earth Hall

The Living Earth hosts simulated environments around the world, including rainforests, coral reefs, and caves, including live animals. It was opened in 1993.

Science Arcade[edit]

The Science Arcade is amongst the oldest exhibits at the science centre, having been a permanent fixture in the building since its opening in 1969. The Science Arcade houses a number of "arcade-styled" games.[38]

Space Hall and the Planetarium[edit]

Level 4 Space Hall

The Space Hall was refurbished in the late 2000s and features meteorites from Mars and one of the few Moon rocks on public display in Canada. The Ontario Science Centre also holds Toronto's only operating public planetarium, since McLaughlin Planetarium was closed in 1995.

Weston Family Innovation Centre[edit]

Weston Family Innovation Centre

The Weston Family Innovation Centre is an exhibit designed to encourage experimentation, and features exhibits that allow visitors to prototype a new type of shoe, and to test their aviation abilities.[38] The Weston Family Innovation Centre houses Pipe Dreams by Bruce Shapiro, a bubble art installation.[41]


Science School[edit]

The Ontario Science Centre Science School (OSCSS) offers grade 12 University Preparation courses in STEM subjects: physics, biology, chemistry, calculus, and advanced functions. All students also complete an interdisciplinary studies credit in science communication while enrolled with the OSCSS. The credits are issued by either the Toronto District School Board or the Toronto Catholic District School Board, which also fund the program so it is available at no cost to students from anywhere in Ontario. While at the Science Centre, students earn practicum hours through volunteering and interacting with visitors.[42]


As an Agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Science Centre is overseen by Trustees appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, who selects[43] not fewer than sixteen and not more than twenty-six trustees, and designates one of them as chair and another as vice-chair.[44] Meetings are held four times a year, and Trustees serve for a term not exceeding three years but may be reappointed for one or more terms.


The Ontario Science Centre is affiliated with the Canadian Museums Association (CMA), Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), and Virtual Museum of Canada. The Ontario Science Centre is a member of the international Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC).

Cultural references[edit]

Ontario Science Centre was used by David Cronenberg as a location for his 1970 film Crimes of the Future.[45]


Ontario Science Centre was featured on the Rick Mercer Report in 2016.[46] In his CBC news satire program, Rick Mercer visited numerous scientists' exhibits, took part in a wildlife conservation show, and partook in a psychological fear study during a workshop there.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Performance Target Discussions" (PDF). Annual Report 2017–2018. Ontario Science Centre. 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Bozikovic, Alex (April 19, 2023). "Doug Ford's plan to move the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place ruins them both". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Walton, Chris (May 3, 2023). "Raymond Moriyama's Ontario Science Centre could be demolished". The Architect’s Newspaper. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Micallef, Shawn (April 23, 2023). "Doug Ford's party built the Ontario Science Centre. That makes his plan to demolish it even more puzzling". Toronto Star. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c Jeffords, Shawn (July 23, 2023). "Toronto's looking at how to keep Ontario Science Centre where it is — and could run its own". CBC News. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  6. ^ "Ontario Science Centre- Centennial Ontario". www.archives.gov.on.ca. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Bradburn, Jammie (September 27, 2019). "'Please touch everything': Inside the opening of the Ontario Science Centre". TVO. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  8. ^ "Archives of Ontario - Tourism in Ontario: Government and the Tourist Industry - Expansion and Diversification". www.archives.gov.on.ca. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  9. ^ "40 Years of Innovation". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on April 12, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
  10. ^ Sanderson, Blair (June 29, 2016). "50 years on, centennial buildings still important symbols". CBC. Last Updated: June 29, 2016
  11. ^ a b c d Omand, Douglas N. (1974). "The Ontario Science Centre, Toronto". Museum International. Taylor & Francis. 26 (2): 76–85. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0033.1974.tb01821.x.
  12. ^ Eggertson, Laura (November 15, 1990). "Science Centre's Oman contract boycotted Israel". Kitchener - Waterloo Record.
  13. ^ "Cohon rejects blame for science centre deal". Toronto Star. November 21, 1990.
  14. ^ Brennan, Pat (November 20, 1990). "The Ontario Science Centre's fired director-general says he should have been sacked in July if a controversial contract he signed was wrong". Toronto Star.
  15. ^ "Crossing Boundaries 2010/2011" (PDF). Ontario Science Centre. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  16. ^ Public Health Agency of Canada (June 8, 2022). "Immunization Partnership Fund". Government of Canada. Archived from the original on September 12, 2022. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  17. ^ "Map of the Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Ontario Science Centre, an agency of the Government of Ontario. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  18. ^ "Visitor Tips | Ontario Science Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  19. ^ a b Morrell, Patrick (April 22, 2023). "Here's the latest on the province's plan to move the Science Centre to Ontario Place". CBC News. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  20. ^ "Toronto's Eglinton Crosstown is so long overdue it has signs for the doomed Line 3". www.blogto.com. Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  21. ^ Lam, Elsa (April 24, 2023). "ACO and TSA advocate to save Ontario Science Centre". Canadian Architect. iQ Business Media Inc. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  22. ^ a b c "Major Moments". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on March 10, 2020.
  23. ^ "Art installations". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on August 14, 2012.
  24. ^ Sanderson, Neil. "Amateur radio station VE3OSC Toronto". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  25. ^ "Ontario Science Centre: Volunteer Demos". January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  26. ^ "VE3OSC - Callsign Lookup by QRZ.COM". January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  27. ^ "Stacy Levy • Lotic Meander". Archived from the original on August 17, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  28. ^ "Fifteen years on the road— Strange Matter continues its journey". MRS Bulletin. 43 (6): 458–459. June 2018. Bibcode:2018MRSBu..43..458.. doi:10.1557/mrs.2018.137. S2CID 243936260. Strange Matter opened to the public at the OSC in Toronto, Canada, on June 28, 2003.
  29. ^ "Facing Mars". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on August 22, 2012.
  30. ^ "Harry Potter™: The Exhibition to cast a spell on the Ontario Science Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  31. ^ "Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop: The Exhibition opens at the Ontario Science Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  32. ^ "'The Greatest Show on Earth' at the Ontario Science Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  33. ^ "Ontario Science Centre Hosts World's Biggest Video Game Celebration with Canadian Premiere of GAME ON 2.0". Ontario Science Centre. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
  34. ^ "This summer #ScienceROCKS at the Ontario Science Centre with The Science of Rock 'N' Roll". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on July 23, 2014.
  35. ^ "In Knowledge We Trust". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  36. ^ "MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015.
  37. ^ Hunter, Paul (June 9, 2016). "Kirby came to Toronto to celebrate his new game, Kirby: Planet Robobot". Best Buy.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g "Permanent Exhibit Halls". Ontario Science Centre. 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  39. ^ "The AstraZeneca Human Edge". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013.
  40. ^ "ActivIdée". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012.
  41. ^ "Art around the Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012.
  42. ^ "Ontario Science Centre: Science School". Ontariosciencecentre.ca. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  43. ^ "Order in Council 1188/2016". www.ontario.ca. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  44. ^ "Centennial Centre Of Science And Technology (Ontario Science Centre) - Public Appointments Secretariat". www.pas.gov.on.ca. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  45. ^ "Crimes of the Future (1970) - IMDb". IMDb.
  46. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Rick at the Ontario Science Centre". YouTube.

External links[edit]