Past Exhibitions

Treasures from the Diefenbunker

January to December 2017
In addition to its year round calendar of exhibitions, the Diefenbunker is launching a new series of monthly features in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. These features will highlight archival documents and artifacts from the Diefenbunker collection that shed light on life in Canada, and underground at CFC Carp during the Cold War. Discover something new with every visit!

From Hand to Hand by Valerie Noftle

January 27, 2017 to August 31, 2017
The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum is proud to begin its year of celebrations for Canada’s 150th Anniversary with the launch of the “From Hand to Hand” photo exhibition by Canadian artist Valerie Noftle. Due to popular demand, the Diefenbunker Museum is proud to extend Valerie Noftle’s From Hand to Hand photo exhibition to August 31, 2017.

For the first six months of 2016, Noftle had the privilege of working with 13 veterans whose hands and stories form the “From Hand to Hand” photo series. Veterans who have served Canada from the Second World War to Afghanistan, have generously shared their time with Noftle over photo shoots and coffee, resulting in an intimate and moving exhibition honouring those who serve.

In celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary, the “From Hand to Hand” photo series has also been made into a 2017 calendar which is now available through the Diefenbunker’s Cold War Store. For every calendar sold, a $10.00 donation will be made to Support Our Troops, the official charity of the Canadian Forces community, managed by Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services. These funds will be designated to help combat homelessness among our veterans. Soldiers Helping Soldiers, a volunteer group of soldiers helping their own, has identified over 350 homeless veterans in Ottawa alone. The 2017 calendar is one way of helping bring that number down to zero.

The Age of Atomic Anxiety

An exhibition by the Diefenbunker’s Artist-in-residence, Anna Frlan

September 18, 2016 to January 31, 2017
Following months researching a wide range of subjects about the Cold War through the Museum’s collection, archives, blueprints, photos and library, Anna Frlan has created a series of sculptures that explore the psychological climate during that era. Occupying several spaces throughout the four storey underground facility, Frlan’s highly detailed works offer a unique perspective on one of the most critical times in the world’s history.

Two Exhibitions: For Freedom and Independence
and Hungarian Exodus

November 3, 2016 to December 31, 2016

The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum is honoured to partner with the Embassy of Hungary in Canada to present two travelling exhibitions in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. For Freedom and Independence pays tribute to the young leaders of the spontaneous Hungarian uprising that grew to become a revolution and fight for freedom in 1956. The Hungarian Exodus commemorates the arrival to Canada of over 37,000 refugees following the Hungarian uprising of 1956, and of the contribution of Hungarian Canadians to this country.

Exhibition Launch:
November 3, 2016.

Reserve your tickets here.

Canex Convenience and Community

April 23, 2016 to December 31, 2018
The CANEX at Canadian Forces Station Carp contributed to employee morale by helping to achieve a sense of normalcy for those stationed at this underground military station. From cigarettes and candy, to toiletries and magazines, CANEX provided simple goods and conveniences that offered a small level of comfort to the station’s personnel. Step back in time in this updated space, recreated to represent the canteen in 1977.

A Nuclear Family Kitchen

October 4, 2015 to September 3, 2017
Step back in time and into the kitchen of the Green family, with all of its modern day conveniences and comforts. This exhibit offers a glimpse at life in the early 1960′s through the heart of the nuclear family home – the kitchen.

A Nuclear Family Kitchen features artefacts from the Diefenbunker, City of Ottawa Museums, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Past Exhibitions

The Cold War: Causes, History, Impact
June 14 to August 28, 2016
The Diefenbunker is proud to once again partner with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canada to bring this exhibition outside of Berlin for the very first time. Produced by the Berlin Centre for Cold War Studies and the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship, the exhibition examines the ideological, political, military, and economic causes of the Cold War from a global perspective.
A Select Few
April 23 to October 2, 2016
Highlights from the Diefenbunker Collection selected by Museum staff, volunteers and Board Directors. Each object has a place in the history of Canadian Forces Station Carp or a related Civil Defense facility. Discover what Museum team members selected and why!
Nuts & Bolts: The Stories They Tell - Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Spring/Summer 2016
A condensed version of our 2015 exhibition, Nuts & Bolts: The Stories They Tell has traveled to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as part of its Community Exhibits Program! Nuts & Bolts features rarely seen objects from the Museum’s collection. These objects are the nuts and bolts that reconstruct the story of the Diefenbunker. Each object has an important story to tell, and together they piece together the history of this building. What would these objects say if they could talk?
Group 6: The Canadian Forces Artists Program, 2012 - 2013
November 8, 2015 to January 31, 2016
The Diefenbunker is delighted to partner with the Department of National Defence to present a selection of works produced by artists in a special exhibition of the Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP). Working across a variety of media, the artists in Group 6 bring a unique perspective to the history, contributions and interactions of the men and women in the Canadian Forces in 2012-2013. The art serves to both document the work undertaken by the Canadian Forces in Canada and abroad, but also to provide a unique point of view from creative and independent viewpoints. The Group 6 artists: Sophie Dupuis Leslie Hossack Mary Kavanagh Thomas Kneubühler Sharon McKay Alicia Payne and Joe Amato Leslie Reid Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky Curated by Dr. Laura Brandon, Research Associate, Canadian War Museum and Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University
Geometries and Auralities of Survival
2015 Artists-in-Residence, Jesse Stewart
July 9 to December 31, 2015
“Vertical lines painted on the circular concrete pillars that jut out into the hallways…red stripes painted on doors…concentric circles drawn on maps to indicate the projected survival rates as we move further from the epicentre of a nuclear explosion”. Jesse Stewart, the Diefenbunker’s 2015 artist-in-residence was struck by a “visual emphasis on modernist geometric designs” throughout the facility. These “geometries” are explored in Stewart’s residency exhibition through photography, sculpture and the introduction of artifacts from the Museum’s collection. The exhibition also incorporates sound through the documentation of performances and sound installations throughout Stewart’s ten month residency.
Nuts & Bolts: The Stories They Tell
June 10 to December 31, 2015
Nuts & Bolts: The Stories They Tell features rarely seen objects from the Museum’s collection. These objects are the nuts and bolts that reconstruct the story of the Diefenbunker. Each object has an important story to tell, and together they piece together the history of this building. What would these objects say if they could talk?
Afghanistan, Unordinary Lives
April 23 to June 28, 2015
The Diefenbunker is proud to partner with the Embassy of Slovenia in presenting Afghanistan, Unordinary Lives, an exhibition by Slovenian photographer Manca Juvan.

The photographs in this exhibition portray civil society in Afghanistan where Juvan spent many months doing field research among Afghan villagers. “Stories of ordinary Afghans deserve to be both told and seen in order to remind us what the real images of war and poverty – of lives far from ordinary – look like.” Manca Juvan

A key facility within Canada’s Civil Defense program throughout the Cold War, and now a Museum and National Historic Site, the Diefenbunker strives to engage with visitors on issues arising from conflict.

Manca Juvan is a freelance photographer with a BA in Photography and more than a decade of international experience in the field. Juvan’s long-term project “Unordinary Lives” documents the consequences of the Afghanistan War through the stories of ordinary Afghans. The project was published as a book in 2010, followed by an English edition in 2012. Juvan was selected ‘Photographer of the Year’ in Slovenia for her work in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Her work has been exhibited in the Slovene Museum of Modern Art as well as at festivals and in different exhibition venues in Luxembourg, New York, Washington, Brussels, Paris and elsewhere. Her photographs have appeared in The Times, National Geographic and The Guardian among others. She is a member of the international photography collective Sputnik Photos and was a Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellow in 2011.

For more details on Manca Juvan and her work visit

Together, An Exhibition on Global Development
May 1 and 2, 2015
Together: An exhibition on global development is an innovative, interactive and multi-sensory experience designed to spark conversations about the role that Canadians can play in reducing global poverty. This unique, mobile exhibition is housed in a 53-foot, custom vehicle. With 1,000 square feet of exhibit space, Together transports visitors around the globe. The exhibition features: Powerful photography, film and audio that bring the individual stories behind global change to life Interactive components and unique objects that enable visitors to explore innovative solutions to global challenges – and uncover how they can build on their own skills and interests to take action Opportunities for visitors to share their experience with one another and with their social networks. A bilingual exhibition, Together is joining communities across Canada in a conversation about global change. In 2015 the exhibition travels across Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. In 2016 it will travel to northern Ontario and then on to central and western Canada.
25 | Berlin
November 6, 2014 to March 29, 2015
On November 9, 1989, the wall between East and West Berlin came down reuniting a city and a country, and marking the end of the Cold War, decades after it began. The Berlin Wall came to be a symbol of division, a line between conflicting ideologies, and a barrier to a peaceful resolution of over 30 years of tension. Twenty-five years later, we celebrate this moment as an acknowledgement of the hundreds of thousands acts of civil courage that led to the end of the Cold War. The lessons of this time period are those of diplomacy, courage, and conflict resolution.

The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum is proud to partner with the Embassy of Germany to present a trio of exhibitions in honour of this important moment in history.

Dictatorship and Democracy in the Age of Extremes: Spotlights on the History of Europe in the Twentieth Century
Revealing a total of 190 rare photographs, newspaper clippings and political cartoons from different European archives, this exhibition tells Europe’s dramatic story of the 20th century – a past between freedom and tyranny, democracy and dictatorship. Produced by the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, Deutschlandradio Kultur, and the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED

German Canadian Graffiti Jam: The Bunker Reunion
Extended to May 3, 2015

On February 15, 2014, the Embassy of Germany to Canada and the organizers of House of PainT, Ottawa’s biggest annual urban arts festival, invited the public to a trailblazing transatlantic graffiti jam. The audience had the chance to watch Canadian and German artists hard at work creating murals commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall while enjoying German beats. For 25 | Berlin, these one of a kind murals will once again be available for viewing in the Museum’s cafeteria.

The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse by Leslie Hossack
Extended to May 3, 2015

Ottawa photographer Leslie Hossack presents a photo installation that captures a length of the Berlin Wall; a piece intended to simulate a walk along the Wall today.

Breaking Barriers
September 20, 2014 to January 31, 2015
In partnership with One World Dialogue, the Diefenbunker presents an exhibition in celebration of International Peace Day.

The Berlin Wall divided a country, a city, and the world. This physical divide between communist East Berlin and capitalist West Berlin is one of the most powerful symbols of the Cold War, and has resonated around the world for 25 years.

This exhibition explores through visual art interpretations, expressions and lessons of breaking barriers and the symbolism of the Berlin Wall in its efforts for peace.

Participating artists:
Sarah Barbary
Carol Howard Donati
Jaime Koebel (curating works by Howard Adler, Heather Campbell, Rebekah Elkerton, Peter Purdy, and Tim Yearington)
Randolph McMillan
Marie-Paule Thorn
Sandy Woods

Artwork by:
H’Art of Ottawa
The Odawa Native Friendship Centre
Grade 4 Students of Manotick Public School
Grade 2-8 Students of CHEO School
Youth Campers from the Taggart Family YMCA
Minwaashin Lodge

To Warn Other Canadians
April 26 to September 28, 2014
Gail Bourgeois, the Diefenbunker’s first ever Artist-in-residence (November 2013 to April 2014) presents a series of site specific, mixed media artworks throughout the museum.

“To warn other Canadians is a research and exhibition project that will present art works among the museum’s exhibition spaces. The title is borrowed from something said by tour guide and museum Collections Manager, Doug Beaton: The bunker was here to warn other Canadians. This refers to the role the bunker played in housing elements of the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack. Signals are a human element.

The Cold War, a sustained state of global political and military tensions between East and West Blocs of power, is often given beginning and ending dates that nicely contain a still existing nuclear threat. Named by George Orwell after the dropping of the first atomic bombs in 1945, “cold war” describes the experience of nuclear destruction held in delicate suspension by the avoidance of direct military combat. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion of the post-war period has re-emerged in the form of an unseen but keenly felt enemy. My reflection on this takes the form of art pieces meant to create a space for reflection; another look at what is familiar.”

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Building Peace
September 14, 2013 to January 31, 2014
The Diefenbunker Museum and One World Dialogue (OWD) present the exhibition: Building Peace.

How do we build and create a ‘culture of peace’ as we move into the future?  Art is a powerful tool to express the human desire for peace. This exhibition explores different perspectives on building peace representing our past, present and a look to our future.

Participating artists: Sarah Barbary, Michel Luc Bellemare, Margo Blackwell, Gail Bourgeois, Margaret Chwialkowska, Carol Donati, Jaqueline Duck, Kelley Gu, Analisa Kiskis, Jamie Koebel, Olaf Krassnitzky, Monique Martin, Chris Maveety, Jill McCubbin, Sau Lan Mo, K. C. Geoffrey Ng, Elbagir Osman, Hengameh Kamal Rad, Marika Smart, Chelsea Smith, Michelle Smith, Jessica Whitney, Sandy Woods, Nancy Young Mill and the children of Spy Camp 2013 and Manotick Public School

The Diefenbunker: At a Point in Time
By Guy Lafontaine
September 28 to December 31, 2013

As part of Culture Days 2013, photographer Guy Lafontaine, showcased his unique and powerful photographs of the Diefenbunker when it was decommissioned in the mid-1990s, focusing on the industrial environment of this strange space.

Guy states that this series of photographs proves itself very important for the continuation of his evolution inside the photographic medium. His work in the industrial environment allows him to comprehend the interior of this fascinating world.

Voices of our Past
April 11 to August 31, 2013
The Diefenbunker launched Voices of our Past as part of Top Secret: the Lives of Employees at CFS Carp, the Virtual Museums of Canada Exhibition featuring oral histories of former Canadian Forces Station Carp employees who worked at the Diefenbunker during its 33 year operation. This interactive exhibition featured interviews and stories on daily life in the Diefenbunker and the atmosphere of the Cold War Era, but also showcased special digital artifacts, including photos of the interviewees, period images of the Bunker and objects from our collection, which truly serve to complete the story of the Diefenbunker.

For the first time, there is a generation of Canadians who were not alive during the Cold War. This exhibition allowed a new generation to hear from the employees of CFS Carp directly about life during the Cold War and the operations of an underground nuclear bunker.

Cold War Cartooning
May 23 to August 30, 2013
A journey back through over 40 years of political history with Cold War Cartooning at the Diefenbunker Museum!

Cold War Cartooning brought together intriguing and entertaining cartoons in a unique exhibition which documented key moments in Cold War history.

The Cold War era (1947-1989) offered endless inspiration for cartoonists. The nuclear arms race, quest to conquer outer space, armed conflicts, and more, are features in these political cartoons published in newspapers across Canada during this time.

The cartoons exhibited in Cold War Cartooning provided an insightful record of a turbulent and unpredictable time in world history. Drawing from the Diefenbunker archive, the extensive collection at the McCord Museum, and various other archives, the exhibition offered a critical and comical view about the Cold War that was powerful, provocative, and playful.

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September 21 to December 31, 2012
Photographs by Leslie Hossack highlighted works from the artist’s 2010 Diefenbunker series. “When I first visited Canada’s Cold War Museum in 2010, I felt a visceral connection”, said Hossack. “I felt strangely at home there. I love objects from the 1950s, from the pre-plastic era. And I am strongly attracted to locations linked to the monumental events of the 20th century: Stalinist buildings in Moscow, Nazi architecture in Berlin, ancient walls in Jerusalem.”

Born in 1947 (the year the term ‘The Cold War’ was coined), Hossack has vivid memories of her parents discussing the launch of Sputnik by the Russians in 1957 and of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962; memories of anxiety and fear.

“Throughout my life I’ve been disturbed by the duality of inclusion and exclusion; this theme permeates FALLOUT. The Diefenbunker was designed to shelter 535 designated government officials in the event of a nuclear attack; none could bring family members. That poignant fact haunted me while creating these images.”

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