The City of Ottawa Museums care for and manage Ottawa’s evidence of human history beyond the written word. Over 200,000 objects in our artefact collections tell the story of the city’s evolution and the people who shaped it – from the earliest settlers to local celebrities.
As stewards of Ottawa’s material culture, we hold these objects in trust for the people of Ottawa and present them to the public through programs and events, permanent and temporary exhibitions, during Doors Open Ottawa, and by appointment at our artefact storage centres.
Billings Estate National Historic Site
A large portion of the Billings Estate National Historic Site artefact collection received Canadian Cultural Property designation in 1996 because of its significance as material evidence of the historic development of the nation's capital. The eclectic collection contains more than 27,000 artefacts - many of which are on exhibition at the museum - that belonged to the family and their neighbours, including furniture, household goods, personal possessions, an extensive library, tools, entomological specimens, agricultural equipment and a 1959 Cadillac.
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum
Representing a fascinating period in our history - the 1920s and 1930s - the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum's collection represents the social, cultural, technological, and economic changes of the era between the First and Second World Wars. Textiles, mass communication devices, agricultural equipment, recreational items, and furnishings are just a few examples of the more than 19,000 objects in our care in this collection, with many of them on site as part of the museum's immersive exhibition experience.
Fairfields Heritage House
Purchased by William Bell in the 1820s, the Bell family homestead – now known as Fairfields Heritage House – remained in the Bell family for nearly 175 years. The collection of 3,000 artefacts tells the history of five generations of the Bell family within the context of the greater Ottawa area. Many of these objects are on exhibition at the historic house.
Featuring a set of surveying equipment originally belonging to William Ogilvie, originally from Gloucester Township and a Canadian Dominion land surveyor, this collection contains more than 16,000 artefacts representing rural heritage.
Unique to this collection is a homemade wooden bike and several rare children's toys. It also includes tools and equipment, household effects, and personal belongings from residents of the farms and villages spread throughout Gloucester Township. Several of the items in this collection are on display as part of the primary exhibition at Billings Estate National Historic Site.
The 20,000 objects in the Nepean Museum's artefact collection tell the history of Nepean from 1792 to 2001, with objects representing farming, industry, entertainment, fashion, law enforcement, sports, toys and games, and politics. Collection highlights include items that belonged to Sir Evan Nepean himself. The objects are used in programs and exhibitions both at the museum and as part of outreach activities.
Pinhey's Point Historic Site
The artefact collection that supports Pinhey's Point Historic Site includes historic items from the Pinhey family, dating back to as early as their life in England to their settlement at Horaceville, and including objects from the 3rd and 4th generations of the Pinhey family. Objects from contemporaries of the Pinhey family on neighbouring riverfront properties are also part of the collection. The Pinhey's Point Foundation owns this artefact collection and uses them for the indoor exhibitions at the site.
Archaeological material and objects specific to our five museums and those that were unearthed during the excavations at Lebreton Flats are housed in our care. A selection of these items is on display at the museums and as part of an exhibition at City Hall (110 Laurier Avenue West) during Archaeology Month in August.