Mandate, Mission, and History



Postal Card featuring the Redpath Museum, c.1910, BAnQ.
Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal. Published by International Fine Art Co., Montreal. Nd.
The Redpath Museum is an independent unit of the Faculty of Science at McGill University. Its mission is to foster an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our biological, geological and cultural heritage through scientific research, collections study and education. Built in 1882 by Canada's foremost Victorian naturalist, Sir William Dawson, it has its own faculty and offers courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as a minor in natural history.

Each year, more than 5,000 schoolchildren and students interact with the Museum's educators, and nearly 80,000 visitors view its exhibitions. Thanks to its dedicated staff, the Redpath Museum is more active and productive than ever. Research projects at the Museum focus on evolution, whether it's detailing some 3.5 billion years of life on the planet or examining how creatures and systems are changing today.

Scientific research at the Museum is based on a total collection of over half a million objects, including fossil, animal and mineral specimens, as well as artifacts from various cultures. This material is used daily in a multitude of university courses and research projects, and many specimens are loaned to other institutions to contribute to research.


Postcard featuring the McGill downtown campus circa 1922-1931.
McGill University = Université McGill : physics building = sciences physiques : Redpath museum = Musée Redpath : chemistry & mining building = chimie et mines : library = bibliothèque. Brooklyn, New York, Miller Art Co., circa 1922-1931.
The mission of the Redpath Museum is to collect, preserve, study and display material pertaining to natural history and cultural heritage at McGill University. The Museum oversees the protection of the collections it houses through preservation, conservation, and research. The museum's natural history and world cultures collections, as well as the knowledge derived from them, are made publicly available to foster positive changes in the perception and appreciation of nature, for future generations. In addition to its public service role, the core of the Museum’s mission is to provide university students training in museology, in the highest standards of collections management, research, exhibition, and public education.


Sir William Dawson 1884
Sir William Dawson, by Notman & sons, 1884, McCord-Stewart Museum
The Redpath Museum is the oldest building in Canada built as a museum. Completed in 1882, it originally housed the collections of Sir William Dawson, then Principal of McGill. The museum currently holds extensive collections in the fields of paleontology, zoology, mineralogy, and world cultures (ethnology). It has several research labs and a Victorian teaching auditorium. The museum is open to the public.

Read more about the Museum's history and architecture and about its Directors.



Land Acknowledgement

McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous peoples whose presence marks this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

The Redpath Museum's director EDI statement.

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