All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Quebec City is the perfect walkable urban center, filled with historic architecture, parks and a scenic boardwalk to roam. Locals seem to fill every street, lounging at cafes, listening to live music or just strolling the cobblestone sidewalks. But I discovered one rainy afternoon that the Musee de La Civilisation is where natives head when they can't enjoy outdoor attractions.
Located right across from the city port in Old Quebec City, the museum was crammed with cruise ship visitors and locals when I visited. As a absorbed the offerings of ten interactive exhibits, concerts and a cafe, I realized that this building, dedicated to regional culture and history as well as societies around the world, is a great way to spend a day in Quebec City.
The lines for admittance can be long, so attendants pass out maps and museum exhibit info that allow you to plan your visit as you wait. I was excited to learn that a significant portion of the museum features mobile apps, podcasts, games and virtual displays to view at any time.
After downloading the app, I knew I wanted to view the "Egyptian Magic" show, which runs until April 2016. A fascinating look into the hidden world of ancient Egyptian gods, death rituals and how they were linked to mankind, the show features lots of statues, sarcophagi and sacred objects. A guided tour is available, but I wandered through on my own, gazing at the archaic figures and learning how the Egyptians used magic to influence destinies.
The complex system of gods and their powers, along with the rituals Egyptians followed to honor them, was broken down well enough that I saw lots of children occupied by the displays. The British Museum, the Louvre and the Museo Egizio in Turin loaned some of the objects, so it's a rare chance to see artifacts that aren't usually viewable in North America.
The Egyptian exhibit was about hushed reverence and spooky practices but the "Horsepower!" exhibit of antique carriages focused on nostalgia and beautiful designs. The largest horse drawn carriage collection in North America, the display covers 200 years (1770-1950) of Quebec's transportation history and runs through January 2017.
Divided into rolling and sliding carriages, elegant craftsmanship straight out of fairytales is a feast for the eyes. It was especially interesting to see the carriages against backdrops of scenes and dress from the corresponding eras.
Permanent exhibits including "People of Quebec...Then and Now" supply a good background about the history of the province and details of the society's development. The display showcases a hodgepodge of period pieces like tapestries, hockey jerseys and common toys to give a glimpse into the culture. A short film and archival footage rounds out the exhibit.
After hours of perusing the museum, I was thrilled to see that there were several food options available. The Urban Cafeteria supplies quick snacks and sandwiches, while the Cafe 47 serves fresh gourmet dishes like salmon tartare or bacon and cheese pizza. The highlight was eating in the sunny courtyard, with views of the St. Lawrence River.
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