Experience Canadian culture at its best
The museum is a historical hub of this beautiful Canadian city and is nowadays a listed building. The collection encompasses the recent approaches in Canada's natural history. Furthermore, there are artefacts shown originating in the period from 1891 to 1932, the time of Victoria and Edward who have had, in retrospect, the biggest impact on the museum up to the present-day. The interior of the museum creates a special atmosphere due to its sophisticated scaffolding system which impresses in both its architectural style and content. This impression is particularly emphasised through the open stairs and floors as well as the costly wood finishing and the original decorative elements.
Highly impressive anywhere you look
After enjoying the exhibition inside, it's time to explore the museum's outdoor facilities. Architecturally, the museum building is highly impressive here too as it used to be an imposing state building and still contains a historical flair in every corner. Nowadays, the park surrounding the museum is often used as a venue for festivals and other open air events. One can be sure to always experience a unique agenda of entertainment on-site. In case there's no special event taking place on the day you're visiting, then there's still the option to explore the surrounding mountain ridges. Additionally, you may overview the Bow River and parts of the Banff's city centre standing up here.
A Venerable Museum with Tradition
The museum being a historical building, it enjoys a special status in Banff. Having been built in 1903, it is considered the oldest park in a Canadian National Park. It has therefore long-time been a listed building. And what is more, it is the oldest museum of natural history in the whole of Western Canada.
Time for Changes
Originally, the building was located along the southern riverside of the Bow River and already received the first samples for its collection, which has meanwhile grown immensely, from the Department of Natural History of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1895. As the samples kept increasing in numbers, the museum saw itself confronted with too little of space to accommodate the entire collection. Due to these circumstances a new building for the museum was eventually constructed and placed opposite the Bow Bridge at the west end of Banff Avenue. Norman Sanson, a meteorologist, managed the new building as the acting director for a long time. It was him who extended the collection of the museum immensely during his time in office. After his retirement, though, the position wasn't filled again and thus the museum still shows samples exclusively from the 20th century.
A Variety of Species
In the period between 1905 and 1937 even a small zoo existed around the museum's building. It presented 36 different bird species and 50 other animal species. Most of these zoo animals were not endemic to Canada so that keeping those exotic animals was something special back in the day. The zoo was then closed in 1937 and, as a consequence, most animals were transferred to Calgary Zoo.
How to get there
From the direction of Calgary
Coming from Calgary, you first follow the Bow Trail heading westwards out of the city and take a right at the intersection into the Sarcee Trail. After a while, you change onto Trans-Canada Highway driving in the direction of Banff. Follow the road for about 110km (68mi) until you take the exit in Banff. Keep left on Banff Avenue. This way you get straight to the city centre.
From the direction of Jasper
Starting your journey in Jasper, you first head westwards taking Connaught Drive to get out of the city. After crossing Yellowhead Highway, you will now drive on the Icefields Parkway which you follow for the next 285km (177mi). This way leads you through both the Jasper National Park and parts of the Banff National Park. Upon approaching Lake Louise you change to Trans-Canada Highway which you then leave again via the exit to Banff. Follow the Mt Norquay Road and finally turn into Gopher Street taking you straight to the city centre of Banff.
From the direction of Lethbridge
The Scenic Drive takes you from Lethbridge to the driveway of Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3). Following the highway for the next 18km (11.2mi), you turn right and carry on towards Calgary. And after another 18km (11.2mi), you turn right again and continue the journey as signposted towards Monarch/ Vulcan. You will then get to Highway 23 which you follow until you see the sign to turn left to Claresholm. Once there, take a left and follow the signs to Calgary/ Nanton. Thereafter, you continue on the Queen Elizabeth Highway (Highway 2) taking you to Nanton, passing the Silver Lake on your way northwards. Keep right to get onto the Deerfoot Trail which you will then leave on the outskirts of Calgary to change to Southland Drive before turning right onto the Blackfoot Trail. You eventually change onto the Glenmore Trail and follow the road for about 8km (5mi) before continuing on the Sarcee Trail. Hereafter, you change to Trans-Canada Highway and continue towards Banff where you'll arrive after another 110km (68mi) of a journey.
Once you'll arrive in Banff, follow the Banff Avenue. Take a right when at the intersection of Buffalo Street. Turn left at the next opportunity and follow the road until you arrive at the Banff Park Museum.
By Public Transport
If you arrive at Calgary Airport, you may want to take a bus to Banff. There are a few bus lines operating on a daily routine between the airport and the city. In addition, you might also want to catch a bus operating between Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, taking you straight to the city centre.
Within the scope of some round trips, there is also the possibility to catch a train to Banff.