The Montreal Planetarium—launched originally in 1966 as part of the Montreal Expo—re-opened in 2013 after two years of renewal and upgrading. The new Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium offers kids and adults a modern, creative way to experience the universe. This includes two complementary productions in two separate theatres plus permanent and rotating exhibitions all in a funky, futuristic, energy-efficient building.
Note that the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium recommends its visitors be at least 7 years old due to the loud, sometimes alarming content of the films. Also, the Biodôme and Insectarium are closed for renovation.
The Montreal Planetarium is one of four facilities that comprise Space for Life, the largest natural sciences museum complex in Canada. Rounding out this quartet of family-friendly attractions, all located at Viau metro station near the Olympic Stadium and within a 10-minute walk of one another, are the Biodome, Insectarium, and Botanical Gardens.
The Montreal Planetarium has two shows, each a half-hour long. One is a more scientific approach, giving an accurate description of the sky and constellations while the other is a more fantastical trip through the universe that flies you in and around galaxies from the comfort of a bean bag chair.
Tips for Visiting
- Avoid crummy, overpriced tourist attraction food by planning ahead. Either bring your lunch (stop at a bakery before you arrive; lots of green space for a picnic lunch once you're there) or make a reservation at a local restaurant—find one on Urbanspoon, but check open hours.
- Lots of walking to be done, especially if you are visiting more than one museum in a day. Put on your comfy shoes, and bring a stroller if needed for children (though all but the Planetarium have them available to borrow). People with mobility issues be warned.
- An accessible shuttle service between the three facilities and the Pie-IX subway stop is available from June to September and runs about every thirty minutes.
- If, in addition to the Planetarium, you plan to visit the Biodome, Insectarium, and/or Botanical Gardens, be sure to purchase a two or three museum ticket package. Note: both the Biodome and Insectarium are closed for renovation as of early 2019.
- Sit towards the middle of the planetarium for the show so visuals are directly above you.
- Most people spend one and a half to two hours at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
As of 2019, an adult ticket for the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium costs $20.25 and children ages 5 to 17 $10.25. Further discounts are offered to students, seniors, and Quebec residents.
You can also save by buying a package of two or three museums—be sure to give yourself enough time if you choose all three in one day; you're looking at a very full—five to six hour day.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Nearby is Olympic Park that includes the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The stadium is open for tours, but just popping your head in should suffice. If you're lucky, you'll catch some high diving practice.
Parc Maisonneuve is adjacent to the Space for Life museums and offers 64 acres of green space for hiking and hanging out.
The Planetarium is slightly out of the downtown core of Montreal but easily accessible by the metro—about 25 minutes to Viau metro station.
Driving to the Planetarium from downtown Montreal takes about 20 minutes. Plan to pay at least $12 for parking. Drivers may move their car from museum to museum at no additional cost.