Ottawa Tourism opens 76 new ‘museums’ to show off its hidden gems

The city leans into its reputation to show just how many attractions there are to visit.


Ottawa Tourism is looking to further establish the city, which is already home to many of Canada’s national museums, as a centre of all forms of culture by highlighting 76 of its many lesser-known attractions.

In a campaign called “Unofficial Museums,” the city’s destination marketers take a close look at some of the varied highlights of the Ottawa experience, from the Rideau Canal to the Tavern on the Falls to the Great Canadian Bungee. All of these activities and sites have been “unofficially” renamed in a way that best represents what each of them is about – including the “Unofficial Museum of Scenic Cardio,” the “Unofficial Museum of Airplane Mode,” and the “Unofficial Museum of Free Falling,” respectively.

The genius of the campaign is that, rather than trying to break free of the city’s reputation for being a place of many museums, it leans straight in, says Xavier Blais, CD with Rethink, which developed the campaign with Ottawa Tourism.

“Rather than saying, ‘look, Ottawa isn’t just museums,’ we doubled down and turned everything into a museum, turning this common misconception into a positive,” he says.

“Some people see Ottawa as this monolithic block of national cultural institutions,” he adds. “The truth is, there’s a ton of unique, fun and interesting things to do in the city, we just don’t talk about them in that way. Showing those off-the-beaten-path hidden gems wasn’t enough; we needed a hook to show Ottawa in a new light. That’s when we figured, if pretty much everything in that city is about culture and creativity, isn’t everything a museum?”

Ottawa_Images_3“Culture is all over Ottawa,” adds Glenn Duncan, SVP and CMO of Ottawa Tourism. “The city is home to seven of Canada’s nine national museums and one-of-a-kind festivals, not to mention our new ‘Unofficial Museums’ like the one and only Pizza by the Metre or the ‘Unofficial Museum of Sleeping with the Wolves.’ These are hidden gems we want visitors to discover this summer.”

The ultimate goal is to show that there are many more reasons to visit Ottawa than most Canadians would think – and that it can be a great destination for people who are looking to get more bang for their buck. Though Canadians are well aware that Ottawa is a “cultural metropolis” of Canada, “it has never banked on this notion that culture lives everywhere and isn’t just confined to the four walls of our beloved cultural institutions,” notes Blais.

The campaign will run through the summer into the beginning of the fall in multi-format video, including a full 90-second spot and two 15-second OLVs, as well as display, social and radio, with influencer support.