History of the Biosphere

The Biosphere, U.S. Pavilion

As part of the construction work for Expo 67, the 1967 World’s Fair, Ile Sainte-Hélène is enlarged, using landfill, and Île Notre-Dame is created next to it, as the site of the 1967 World’s Fair. That same year, the United States Information Agency asks Richard Buckminster Fuller to submit an architectural plan for the country’s Expo 67 pavilion.


  • As the United States pavilion, the future Biosphere is one of the biggest attractions at the fair. On July 20, the U.S. government donates its pavilion to the City of Montréal, which takes official possession on January 31, 1968 at 11:59 p.m.
  • For several years after the World’s Fair, the Biosphere is used for recreational activities and as a public attraction. For a time it houses a unique oasis of plants and birds.


  • In May, while the building’s structure is being repaired, a fire destroys the Biosphère’s outer covering. The transparent acrylic skin is never replaced, although the architect, R. Buckminster Fuller, does suggest a way to do so. The City of Montréal bans access to the site.


  • A management plan for the Parc des Îles (now renamed Parc Jean-Drapeau) is approved. Environment Canada decides to participate in this municipal action plan, which is structured around water, the site’s dominant natural feature.

The Biosphere, Environment Museum

On August 9, Environment Canada signs an agreement worth $17.5 million with the City of Montréal to make the Biosphère into a site devoted to environmental action and as a showcase for studying water and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem. Under this agreement, Environment Canada takes full responsibility for the project’s mission, museological direction and building operations for 25 years.

The Biosphere at night

Photo: © Hamidreza, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2012


  • Montréal architect Éric Gauthier wins an architectural competition and is commissioned to redesign the Biosphère’s interior structure in keeping with its original design.


  • The announcement of the Biosphere’s new vocation is made on November 14.

The Biosphere, Environment Museum

Photo: © Vista Photo, 2010


• Environment Canada’s Biosphere is officially opened on June 5th. It is the country’s first museum focused on water, and is dedicated to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem.


• The theme of this year’s programming is Expo 67, to mark the 30th anniversary of that great event.



  • The Ice Storm that struck Quebec in January seriously damages the Biosphere, which closes for more than five months. The theme of this year’s programming is the International Year of Oceans.


  • The Biosphere signs a strategic alliance with the Cousteau team -- a first in North America. This agreement leads to the development and implementation of joint projects aimed at increasing public awareness of water protection in Canada.

The Biosphere

Photo: © René Ehrhardt, CC BY 2.0, 2009


  • This year’s theme is Climate Warning!


  • This year’s theme is H2O Variations.


  • The Biosphere marks ten years of environmental education this year and celebrates by renewing its public spaces and youth programs. The new exhibits are more fun and entertaining than ever and aimed at visitors ages 5 to 17 and their families.


  • River Rover programming.
  • First edition of Green Christmas, aimed at responsible consumption.


  • The Biosphere becomes an Environment Museum and it's regional mandate broadens to the rest of Canada.
  • Inauguration of the National Centre of Expertise on Education and Engagement to the Environment (NC4E).
  • Orientation towards an adult programming and green technologies (with the installation of two wind turbines).
  • First outdoor exhibit on giant panels RESPECT: in the heart of the boreal forest

Ecoological Solar House

Photo: © Vista Photo, 2010



  • Installation of the Ecoological Solar House.
  • Outdoor exhibit of giant photos Arctic, Walking on thin ice, marking the International Polar Year.


U-TURN - Toward sustainable transportation Exhibit

Photo: © Environment Canada, 2010




  • Beginning of the outdoor exhibit U-TURN - Toward sustainable transportation.
  • The Live Green event.
  • Beginning of the X-Treme Weather movie showings.


  • International Year of Biodiversity.
  • The Biosphere celebrates 15 years and continues to address Canadians’ concerns about current environmental issues through its programming, animated activities and interactive exhibitions.
  • The Biosphere inaugurates two green roofs and the indoor garden.
  • The museum launches two temporary exhibitions ONE | Outfits from a New Era and Tightly Knit (exterior giant photo exhibition).

Finding Balance Exhibition

Photo: © Environment Canada, 2011




  • Development of applications for smart phones
  • Recycling-Artists Eco Fair
  • Installation of the green wall


The Biopshere at summer
Design the Future Exhibition

Photo: © Environnement Canada, 2015


  • Outdoor exhibition of giant photos: The Weather and Us.
  • The museum launches a temporary exhibition: Arctic: The turning point!


  • The Biosphere celebrates its 20th anniversary.
  • A new immersive show is presented at the museum: Design the Future.
  • The Biosphere inaugurates two new exhibitions: Spaceship Earth and the temporary outdoor exhibition of giant photos Arctic: The turning point!

Ceci n'est pas un parapluie

Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2016


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