• Mark Kristmanson and John Geiger cut the ribbon to officially open 50 Sussex

    Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the National Capital Commission, and John Geiger, CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, cut the ribbon to officially open 50 Sussex Drive, the Geography and Exploration Pavilion, in Ottawa on June 28, 2017. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Canadian Geographic)

The wait is over.

After a major facelift and weeks of preparation, the new headquarters of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, 50 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, is ready to welcome visitors to two free public exhibitions all summer long. 

On the main floor, the National Capital Commission has developed an exhibit showcasing its vision for Ottawa over the next 50 years. Visitors can explore a large floor map of the capital using an augmented reality app called Layar, learn about the history of the NCC, and see plans for the redevelopment of several key areas around the city. The Geography and Exploration Pavilion, as 50 Sussex will be called throughout September, is one of several Confederation pavilions scattered around the capital region celebrating different aspects of Canada's history and future in honour of the sesquicentennial. 

"In the past few days I've really started to feel that [Canada 150] élan in the capital and I hope you share that with me," Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the NCC said. "I think to be a young person right now in the capital is very exciting, and I hope they'll carry the memory of these spaces forward into the future." 

On the second floor, visitors are invited to step into the ceremonial space created by Indigenous painter Alex Janvier's Thirteen Moons. The series of 13 murals, arranged in a circle, represents the traditional Indigenous lunar calendar and carries messages of change and healing.  

"I'm often asked to define geography in just one word, and my answer is always the same: place. And place is the connective tissue that joins this building and these two inaugural stunning exhibits," said John Geiger, CEO of the RCGS. "Collectively, we offer Canadians an opportunity to strengthen their engagement with our heritage and identity, with our achievements and aspirations, with our past, present and future."

The exhibits will remain open until September 30, after which the building will close for further renovations on the lower levels that will transform it into a hub for geography education and exploration.