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What is Space for Life?

A couple walks through the Botanical Gardens.
Photo: Espace pour la vie/Raymond Jalbert
Visitors to the Botanical Garden
  • Visitors to the Botanical Garden
  • Visitors to the Biodome
  • On the Biosphere's belvedere
  • In the Insectarium Dome
  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan

Through its communication, conservation, research and education activities, Montréal Space for Life guides human beings towards a fuller experience of nature. This mission is carried out in its institutions : Biodôme, Biosphère, Jardin botanique, Insectarium and Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan. Five places of discovery par excellence, that welcome more than two million visitors each year and offer over 160 cultural and scientific activities. 


Towards an inspiring model that brings humans closer to nature

At the heart of all its actions and all its activities, Space for Life promotes principles of sustainable development and seeks at all times to protect biodiversity. In promoting a use of natural resources that does not place biodiversity in jeopardy, Space for Life is taking concrete steps towards leaving future generations a world every bit as rich and proud of its resources.

What this means is a constant concern for being in the forefront of scientific knowledge relating to biodiversity and for sharing it with the public and the scientific community. As well, in managing its facilities and its operations in a sustainable way that is respectful of the environment, Space for Life encourages citizens to draw inspiration from that and in so doing develop a closer connection with nature.


A unique spot for education and learning

Since 1938, Youth Gardens activities have been introducing children to gardening and to healthy lifestyles. Eighty years later, Space for Life is still offering an ideal setting for youngsters by the thousand to develop their potential.

Every year, close to 400,000 children, accompanied by their parents, visit our various institutions. We welcome approximately 80,000 students in various educational settings. Many classes choose to further their learning by participating in one of our educator-led activities. And every summer, children from 5 to 12 sign up for our fun scientific day camps in ecology, entomology and botany. They also take advantage of their visit and the many activities offered to gain an appreciation of astronomy.


Specialized teaching, rich in experiences

Space for Life contributes to training the rising generation thanks to undergraduate- and graduate-level university programs offered by researchers from the Jardin botanique de Montréal and the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale affiliated with Université de Montréal. The institute also participates in the professional horticulture training provided by the École des métiers de l’horticulture.


A knowledge sharing role

Space for Life plays a leading role through the dissemination of its knowledge and its expertise: articles for the general public, interviews with the media, and the circulation of technical information and scientific data. With over 4,500 pages of documentation on its Internet site, Space for Life is an invaluable source of information in astronomy, biology, botany, ecology and entomology.


A place for research

Research is a key element in the Space for Life mission: there are roughly 300 people engaging in research at its five institutions. These true open-air laboratories contribute to the institution’s impact in the fields of biology, entomology, ecology and the environment.


At the Jardin botanique

The Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV) is the result of a partnership between Space for Life and Université de Montréal. It is recognized as a centre of excellence whose mission focuses on plant-biology research and teaching. The work carried out by the Jardin botanique’s botanist researchers, all of them members of the IRBV, falls into four areas:

  • Interactions between plants and the environment
  • Plant signaling and reproduction
  • Urban ecology and phytotechnologies
  • Origin, structure and conservation of biodiversity

The Biodiversity Centre, meanwhile, inaugurated in 2011, is an integral part of the IRBV. It is equipped with ultramodern facilities devoted to scientific research on biodiversity, its safeguarding and its enhancement. The centre promotes long-term conservation and the computerization of important collections of plants, insects and fungi. Its specialized teams contribute to the advancement of research and the training of the next generation in different spheres of activity linked to the inventory of biodiversity.

More details on Jardin botanique research


At the Biodôme

The Biodôme’s team of scientific advisors conducts research that supports maintenance operations for the living collections. These projects are part of the collective effort of the scientific community to preserve nature Their priorities focus on a number of themes:

  • The ecology of species and habitats
  • Habitat protection
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • The adoption of responsible behaviors towards nature, thereby fostering sustainable development
  • Urban wildlife
  • Ethics and animal well-being

More details on Biodôme research


At the Insectarium

By way of its network of associate researchers/entomologists, the Insectarium de Montréal contributes to numerous research projects in systematics (the science of the classification of living beings) and in taxonomy (the science of classifying diverse elements in a domain). In collaboration with the IRBV, and thanks to a contribution from Environment Canada, the Insectarium also runs an important monarch research program, whose aim is to document that butterfly’s areas of occurrence in Québec and Canada with a view to its conservation.


The SEM’AIL program

Launched and managed by the Biodôme, SEM’AIL is an awareness, education and restoration program for the wild leek. Since 2004, close to one and a half million wild leek seeds and bulbs have been planted by citizens in the six regions of Québec where the plant’s decline has been steepest. That citizen action has contributed in a significant way to the conservation of the species.


Invaluable collaborations on an international scale

Over the years, through its research activities and programs, Space for Life has developed a rich network of partners that fuel one another with their learning and knowledge. These are:

  • American Public Gardens Association (APGA), United States
  • Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)
  • Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC)
  • Association des planétariums de langue française (APLF), France
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), United States
  • United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada
  • Cornell University, United States
  • Harvard University and Arnold Arboretum, United States
  • International Planetarium Society (IPS), United States
  • Muséum national d’histoire naturelle de Paris, France
  • University of Florence, Italy


A place for experience and inspiration

At all times, Space for Life has stood out through an original approach open to the world. In bringing together science, art and emotion, it offers a unique and powerful experience that inspires and brings humans closer to nature.

That vision moreover guides all actions taken by Space for Life and finds expression in its programming and its new projects. Each year, that programming is developed on a base common to its five institutions and is composed of a mosaic of experiences that transform our relationship with nature. Be it in a guided scientific activity, a cultural interpretation, an original exhibition or an immersive show, Space for Life opens our minds to all forms of life.

Thus, by way of surprising and evocative discoveries, ranging from the infinitely small to the infinitely big, the five Space for Life institutions work in concert to position Montréal as a leader of the planetary movement in favor of biodiversity.


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