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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Canadian Broadcasting Centre and the CBC Museum

The Canadian Broadcasting Centre at 250 Front Street West is a large space that houses many treasures. The ground floor is open to the public and features a large, light-filled central atrium with a couple of take-out food places and limited seating. It occasionally hosts special events, like a farmer's market or craft shows. The south west corner, near the Front Street entrance, houses the CBC Shop and the entrance to the Glenn Gould Studio, a performance venue. Step outside and visit the statue of Glenn Gould, seated nonchalantly on a bench.

The highlight of a visit to this building however is the CBC Museum. The main gallery space is located just off the north west corner of the atrium. It contains vintage equipment, including a large display of microphones, a wall of general CBC history items, and two themed areas. The first looks at CBC's tradition of producing excellent children's programming, and features Mr. Dressup, The Friendly Giant, and Sesame Park. Look at props, like Mr. Dressup's tickle trunk (don't miss Casey's tree house, which is across the hall from the museum entrance), read about the series and their hosts, and watch clips - sure to take you back! The second area looks at the creation of sound effects, and includes some really simple but fun hands-on activities. If you're going with kids in tow, why not download one of the activity sheets prepared by CBC?

Once you're done with the main space, there is still lots to see. If you're getting foot sore, why not stop in next door at the Graham Spry Theatre. Small but comfy, it shows programming from CBC's vast archives. If you continue down the corridor toward the Wellington entrance, you will see some large vintage cameras. The hallway leading to John Street is lined with recessed display windows featuring vintage radios, including a Sony Walkman complete with box.

The rest of the collection is displayed in the Ivan Harris Gallery which is located one floor below. The stairs are located off the south east corner of the atrium, part way to the Front Street entrance. This gallery presents even more equipment, props and merchandise, and provides a glimpse into the storage area. There are lots of nostalgic pieces here so take some time to browse.

The main museum space is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. The other areas, including the Ivan Harris Gallery, are open whenever the building is. And thanks to recent improvements, the CBC building is now connected to the PATH underground network, so the cold weather is no longer a reason not to visit.

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