Compiled by the Road Trip Alberta team
Last updated on January 12, 2023
Nestled into the Edmonton River Valley, it’s hard to miss the pyramid structures dotting the landscape. From the outside, the Muttart Conservatory and its 4 giant pyramids have been a highlight in the Edmonton landscape for decades. On the inside, it’s an oasis of various world biomes and gardens that are ever-growing and blooming. It’s a beautiful and tranquil spot in Edmonton to experience some inner peace and see various plant life from around the world.
A Guide to the Muttart Conservatory
What is the Muttart Conservatory?
One of the most famous landmarks in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Canada, the Muttart Conservatory consists of three greenhouses, public gardens, and four giant glass pyramids. With two larger pyramids and two medium-sized pyramids, three of them are used to display plants from arid, temperate, and tropical environments, while the fourth is used to display seasonal plants and ornamental flowers in themed shows and exhibits. The two large pyramids have an area of 660 square metres (7,100 sq ft), and the two medium-sized pyramids have an area of 410 square metres (4,400 sq ft).
With over 700 species of plants in the three climate-regulated biomes, you can spend hours wandering around the pyramids at your own pace to discover all of the incredible plants that grow within them. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, the beauty of the displays at the Muttart Conservatory should not be missed when you visit Edmonton; in fact, we think it’s one of the best things to do in Edmonton.
History of the Muttart Conservatory
The Muttart Conservatory opened in Edmonton in 1976 and has been delighting visitors ever since. It was built as a memorial to entrepreneurs Gladys and Merrill Muttart, who donated one million dollars in the 1950s to get the construction of the botanical gardens started. The structure itself was designed by architect Peter Hemingway.
Since the conservatory’s opening, the displays have come a long way; today, the feature pyramid is home to incredible events that showcase elaborate exhibits with lights, moving parts, and more. The Muttart Conservatory is considered one of the highest-rated attractions in Edmonton.
Location and Parking for the Muttart Conservatory
Located in Edmonton’s River Valley, you’ll find the Muttart Conservatory at 9626-96a Street NW. Centrally located in the city, it is extremely close to downtown Edmonton, and right near the Muttart LRT Station (making it an easy stop on public transportation). The conservatory is just south of the North Saskatchewan River and the new Tawatinâ Bridge, in the Cloverdale neighbourhood.
There is free parking at the Muttart Conservatory. There is a large, paved parking lot just outside the conservatory, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot, even at the busiest of times.
Muttart Conservatory Opening Hours
The Muttart Conservatory is open every day from 10 am until 5 pm, except on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when it stays open until 9 pm. Wednesdays from 5 pm until 9 pm are for adults only. Make sure to check the conservatory’s website for any special events that may mean it is closed; for example, it is always closed on Christmas Day.
The Muttart Conservatory is open all year round, even in winter, although some of the outdoor gardens are obviously seasonal due to snow.
Tickets and Admission
How much does it cost to go to the Muttart Conservatory? Thankfully, ticket prices to visit the conservatory are relatively affordable, especially if you consider buying an annual membership. You can buy tickets at the door or online. Admission prices for one visit to the Muttart Conservatory are currently as follows (in Canadian dollars):
- Children under 2 years old: Free
- Children aged 2-12: $7.75
- Youth/Senior: $12.95
- Adult: $14.95
However, as mentioned, if you plan on visiting a few times a year or more, it’s definitely worth it to purchase an annual membership. Yearly membership prices are currently as follows:
- Children under 2 years old: Free
- Children aged 2-12: $29.95
- Youth/Senior: $44.95
- Adult: $54.95
- Family (entire family included): $149.95
Note that there is no admission to wander around the outside of the Muttart Conservatory and take photos. Have fun with all the different angles you can capture the pyramids with. And if there is a rain storm, be sure to head there after the rain has stopped to capture some cool reflections!
Accessibility at the Muttart Conservatory is fairly good, with accessible parking and washrooms, power-operated doors at the entrance of each space, and ramp access to the greenhouses. However, ramp access to the pavilions is known to be steep, so wheelchair users may require some assistance. Similarly, one of the pyramids is only considered partially accessible due to several steps.
While the Muttart Conservatory is not technically dog-friendly, service animals are allowed inside.
What is there to do at the Muttart Conservatory?
Explore the Pyramids
Take your time to explore the fantastic facility, including the three main structures: the arid pyramid, the temperate pyramid, and the tropical pyramid. Within each of those, you’ll learn about what kinds of plants and other botanical species flourish in those climates around the world.
The arid pyramid is home to species that thrive in hot and cold dry areas across five continents, and are able to survive on little and/or irregular moisture. In 2013, an Agave Americana, planted in 1977, actually reached the top of the pyramid at 30 feet.
The temperate pyramid showcases plants and flowers from around the world, from the lakes of Australia to the mountains of Asia. There’s also a woodland and alpine section that features many plants from Alberta; because the biome is carefully controlled, the plants and flowers bloom in spring just as they would in nature.
The tropical pyramid is perhaps the most colourful of the pyramids, with a huge array of species from around the world. You can see banana trees, orchids, various hibiscus, the bird of paradise, and more, with a stunning canopy of palm trees. There’s also a waterfall that cascades into a pond, where water lilies and fish live.
And the fourth pyramid is the feature pyramid. It showcases seasonal plants and flowers, and you’ll find exquisite art and ornamental displays there.
Can you take a tour?
There are two ways to take a tour of the Muttary Conservatory: guided, or self-guided. Guided tours run daily at 1 pm (and at 7 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays) and last about 20 minutes. You can also take a self-guided tour of the conservatory. There are also occasionally “behind the scenes” tours that run on Saturday afternoons.
Another fun aspect of the Muttart Conservatory is the drop-in programs; there are options for children and adults alike and are meant to inspire creativity, education, and entertainment. There are also occasional concerts at the conservatory.
Can you eat at the Muttart Conservatory?
Yes, you can eat at the Muttart Conservatory! Open from 10 am to 5 pm every day (except Wednesdays and Thursdays, when they stay open until 9 pm), you can visit the Culina Muttart Café. Serving snacks, baked goods, coffee, and more on the menu, the café actually uses some of the herbs grown on-site in their food. They are also the catering service for any special events or weddings at the facility.
In addition, there’s a centre court, where you’ll find additional information and displays. There’s also a fantastic gift shop.
Get Married at the Muttart Conservatory
How cool is this: you can get married at the Muttart Conservatory! The space is very popular and regularly hosts weddings, but you’ll have to book very far in advance. It’s also a popular spot for photo shoots with the pyramids and Edmonton’s downtown skyline in the background. In addition, there is an opportunity to book other special events on-site.
Can You Visit in Winter?
Yes! You can visit the Muttart Conservatory year-round and it is open during the winter months. In fact, there’s nothing better than wandering around a warm greenhouse when it’s cold outside! During December the “Feature Pyramid” will have a Christmas and holiday theme which is guaranteed to make you feel warm and cozy and bring a smile to your face.