The Canadian Air and Space Museum -- a trove of national aviation artifacts based in Toronto's Downsview Park -- has been given six months to wind down its operation and figure out where to move its collection.

Museum CEO Robert Cohen says they received an eviction notice on Tuesday ordering the museum to leave its heritage building immediately. After a couple days of negotiations, it was told it could stick around until March 30, but has to spend the interim gradually closing up shop.

"I was hand-delivered last night a letter from the park," Cohen told on Friday. "The park did a fantastic job of using the media to convey back to the museum what they were doing. The park failed to be front and centre with us… We learned everything second hand."

The museum remains open as it searches for a new location, Cohen said.

The building's other tenants also received evictions notices on Tuesday, but were told at that time they had six months to leave.

Downsview Park, a Crown corporation, has plans to demolish all but the façade of the building, and turn it into a skating rink complex. The park, a former Canadian Forces air base, is undergoing big changes including the development of a new sports facility, a sustainable community and a subway station.

The Air and Space Museum was behind on its rent by about $100,000 and has gone through several management changes in the last six months. Earlier this week, Cohen told CTV he sent $22,000 in cheques to the museum's landlord in early September but received the money back on Sept. 14.

Historical significance

The eviction order has left employees struggling to find a space to house its collection, which includes the only full-scale Avro Arrow replica on display in Canada.

However, the building itself also contains historical significance for aviation buffs. The hangar where the museum is located is the home of de Havilland Canada's original aircraft manufacturing plant. The Canadarm was built there, as was the first Canadian satellite.

"This is a park that was meant for the people, it just so happens that there is a museum in one of these buildings that has a life of its own," Cohen said on Friday. "What the Hell is going on with Canada? We have no identity. We need access to our history."

On Thursday, Toronto City Council unanimously passed a motion calling on the federal government to save the museum. It was put forward by Coun. Maria Augimeri (Ward 9 -- York Centre), who stressed the importance of the aerospace industry on the historical growth of the local community.

"Many veterans live near and see the museum as an honourable resting place for their memories," she said in a news release issued Thursday. "So for priceless artifacts like the Avro Arrow to get tossed to the curb it was as though their legacy was being thrown away."

Word of the closure and fear of being locked out prompted several donors to collect items they'd given to the museum. The museum's uncertain future has led to other problems as well.

"What really is a bummer right now is the credibility of the museum has now been put in question," Cohen said. "We have school groups cancelling tours and co-op students who can't fulfill an obligation because they have to have a contract for one year."

Museum staff say they'll do whatever they can to keep the museum open, or at the very least, to keep the artifacts together.

A request to speak with Downsview Park officials went without response.