royal british columbia museum royal british columbia museum

Inside the Royal British Columbia Museum: 15 Surprising Facts

The Royal British Columbia Museum Corporation is Canada’s most important cultural institution. 

The Archives were established in 1894, and the museum in 1886. Intending to gather artifacts, records, and specimens related to British Columbia’s natural and human history, preserving them for the future.

It also disseminates them globally; these two organizations merged in 2003 to form the combined provincial museum and libraries of British Columbia.

History of British Columbia Museum

The museum has gathered and preserved important objects and specimens from the province since the early days of colonization in Victoria for future generations.

In response to a request signed by 30 essential residents, the museum was established in 1886. It was located in the Capitol Buildings, often known as “the Birdcages,” in a small space next to the Provincial Secretary’s office. 

Its initial curator was John Fannin, a devoted collector, taxidermist, and outdoorsman. Since the Legislative Library began preserving pertinent archives in 1894, the regional government has been compiling archival documents. 

The Provincial Archives was founded in 1908 as a distinct organization for gathering information on local imports.

Photo by Klaudia Piaskowska on UnsplashCopy right 2020

The provincial government issued the Museum Act in 1913, formalizing the museum’s capacity to operate and outlining its goals: 

  • To protect and conserve samples illustrative of the province’s natural history, 
  • to gather anthropological data about the province’s Indigenous peoples, 
  • And to gather knowledge about the natural sciences, especially on the province’s natural history, and to disseminate that knowledge.

The museum kept expanding and drawing more tourists. The anticipated yearly attendance had increased to 100,000 by 1961. As a part of Canada’s centennial celebrations, the province decided it was time to expand the museum. In 1963, Premier W.A.C. Bennett unveiled plans to erect a new museum and archives.

The cornerstone for the new museum displays building was dedicated three years later by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. When the Fannin Tower, the second museum structure, was completed in 1969, the museum’s employees and collections formally relocated there.

Initially introduced the public to the 12,000-year Gap and the First Peoples Galleries in 1977, then to Living Land, Living Sea, the initial set of permanent natural history portion Galleries, in 1979.

The BC Archives, the Netherlands Carillon, Helmcken House, Thunderbird Park, St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, and the Royal British Columbia Museum joined forces on April 1, 2003, through the declaration of a new museum act, to form the Royal British Columbia Museum Company, establishing a distinctive cultural precinct in the center of British Columbia’s capital city.

Here are some useful facts about the museum a fan must know.

Amazing Facts about the Royal British Columbia Museum

1. Royal Bc Permanent Exhibition Spaces

The museum features local history, Developing British Columbia, and Its first people’s galleries as its three permanent exhibitions.

A vast collection of first nations items can be seen in the first people’s galleries. The exhibit has a large number of Haida items.

Indigenous academics have critiqued the first gallery for how it depicts members of the First Nations and for using contentious photos and films by Edward Curtis.

A large-scale copy of Captain George Vancouver’s ship HMS Discovery is also displayed in the main gallery, with models of the old fort Victoria, a port moody railroad station, the 1902 Trembley Homestead, and an exploration story.

The natural history gallery showcases the province’s varied terrain from prehistoric eras to the current day through information, relics, and life-sized replicas.

2. Massive Mammoth

The Woolly Mammoth 2020

The show’s centerpiece is a 40,000-year-old newborn woolly mammoth, which the museum describes as the best-preserved example. 

A newborn woolly mammoth named Lyuba, who lived 40,000 years ago, passed away at 30 after becoming caught on a riverbank. She is the best-preserved woolly Mammoth and was uncovered by a Siberian herder.

Any child will tell you that their Royal British Columbia experience was unforgettable. The full-size Mammoth, aptly named “Woolly,” was at the museum, and they’ll probably gush about it. 

When seen in a stunning, enormous Ice Age maquette, it’s simple to picture this magnificent creature prowling about Vancouver Island hundreds of thousands of years ago.

3. The Royal Bc Museum’s Educational Programs Are Excellent

The Royal British Columbia Museum’s learning and visitor experience project offers public events, workshops, lectures, and guided tours designed to inform and interest visitors.

There are yearly celebrations at Helmcken House for Remembrance Day, the history fair, a Carol with the Carillon, and other holiday activities.

An annual schedule for adult, family, and school programming is thought to have fifty events. To effectively engage residents in educational programs about First Nations heritage and identity, the Royal BC Museum has substantial assets and resources. First Nation peoples’ involvement as teachers and students is a critical element of these programs.

4. The Portrait of George Vancouver

There are only known to be two paintings of Captain George Vancouver, and one of them is housed at the Royal British Columbia Museum. The British National Portrait Gallery is home to the other—the original one who created this reproduction. 

This one spent a century in mothballs after being presented to the museum in 1901, and it was eventually put on exhibit in 2018. The names of the painters who created both paintings are still a mystery.

In a brief ceremony, the painting was unveiled in front of the museum’s recreation of the ship HMS Discovery, which Vancouver used to survey and map the British Columbia coastline in the late 18th century.

William Walter donated the portrait, a copy of one in the British National Portrait Gallery, to the museum in 1901, and it has since been kept in the museum’s archives.

The history curator of the museum claims that it needs to be clarified who painted the original, who painted the copy, and why it was presented to the institution.

5. The Cultural Precinct Is Grounded by It

Province and Royal BC Museum join Aboriginal peoples to bring cultural belongings home

The museum has situated in a neighborhood with nearby historical landmarks and a port in the cultural district. The cultural precinct is between Belleville Street, Douglass Street, and Government Street.

The cultural precinct includes the British Columbia Archives, Netherlands Centennial Carillon, Thunderbird Park, St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, and Mungo Martin House.

6. The Imitation of The Hms Discovery

British royal naval officer Captain George Vancouver is most known for his mission. There are only two portraits of him, one of which is in the Royal British Columbia Museum.

George formerly served as the HMS Discovery’s commander. There are captain’s quarters on the HMS Discover replica at the royal museum that you may operate.

You can take place at the table replica that was once used for dining, creating maps, and even performing surgery. A painting of Yuquot’s scenery created by one of the ship’s original crew members surrounds the replica at the museum.

7. Exhibit on Living Languages at The Royal British Columbia Museum

Visitors can discover additional historical information on interrupting language in British Columbia by visiting the live language exhibit.

Viewing the exhibit, you can better comprehend the complexity of those languages, the people, and the community. The museum’s audio, film, and art exhibits present an enthralling picture of the efforts made by indigenous tribes to maintain their linguistic heritage.

The Royal British Columbia Museum won the 2015 American Alliance of the Museum in Excelona in the Exhibition prize for its interactive exhibit on indigenous languages.

8. Thunderbird Park

Thunderbird Park, which opened in 1941, is dotted with totem poles made by the local First Nations. 

The original totem poles have now been replicated by renowned carvers like Mungo Martin, Henry Hunt, and Tim Paul in the museum’s on-site carving workshop, transported inside the Royal British Columbia Museum for preservation or donated back to their communities.

Following Martin’s passing in 1962, Tim Paul, a Nuu-chah-nulth artist, Richard Hunt, and Henry Hunt all rose to the position of the chief carver. 

The original poles were eventually taken inside for storage and replaced with replicas carved by Martin and many others operating under his direction, namely Henry Hunt and Hunt’s sons, Tony and Richard. This process took several years.

The Carving Studio building in Thunderbird Park is where all of the poles that are currently there were carved. Excluding the heraldic pole in front of Wawadia and the more contemporary honoring pole by Sean Whonnock with Johnathan Hunt, all are replicas of the originals.

9. It Is a Top-Notch Natural History and Human History Museum

The British Columbian population’s economic history, cultural and social, and economic history are primarily represented by the human history department.

It has gathered anthropology items ever since the museum was established in 1886. By gathering or raising funds each year, integrating them into the collection, and creating the specimens, the history department creates the records that depict the province’s biodiversity.

Photo by Jon Butterworth on UnsplashCopyright 2019

10. The Artwork on Display

The museum established its department of exhibition arts at the beginning of the 1970s. All of the displays in the Royal British Columbia Museum are currently built internally by the department.

The department is responsible for building the exhibition, setting it up, and taking it down, in addition to managing the permanent galleries. Specialists with various skill sets, including metalworkers, welders, blacksmiths, and carpenters, make up the display art department.

Casting, finishing, large-format printing, lighting, jewelry, and calculation using software and hardware are among the specialties represented in the department.

11. Mungo Martin Residence

When Thunderbird Park was built in 1941, it included a North Coast-style house, including an incorrect frontal painting created expressly for the building and original carvings from numerous First Nations, all of which were assembled in an unauthentic manner. 

Thunderbird Park also has Wawadit’la, the old residence of renowned carver Mungo Martin, and spectacular totem poles. Wawadit’la is a gathering place for urban Indigenous people, where tourists may learn about the First Nations’ history in British Columbia. 

It bears the inherited crest of the family of the master carver. With Peter and Mable Knox’s consent, First Nations events are still held at Wadia. 

Urban First World citizens continue to gather there to practice their cultures, and non-First Nations individuals can visit to learn more about these ongoing customs. The house’s interior elements are completely described in Late Era. Two sculptures have been added since then.

12. The Royal British Columbia Assortment

The museum houses over 7 million items, including artifacts, archive documents, and natural history specimens.

The specimen is included in 750,000 records in the natural history collection. Most models come from nearby state territories and provinces, particularly British Columbia.

Entomology, Ichthyology, herpetology, paleontology, botany, invertebrate, zoology, mammalogy, and ornithology are the fields in which the collection is separated.

According to the Royal British Columbia Museum collection policy, the museum holdings must connect to British Columbia’s natural or human history. Representative artifacts and unusual objects are separated into different categories in the collection.

Source: Benoit Daoust / Shutterstock

13. The Royal British Columbia Museum’s Publishing and Publication Activities

When then-curator John Fannin produced a list of British Columbia birds in 1891, the Royal BC Museum officially started publishing.

Thousands of books, articles, booklets, and other documents about the museum’s research, collection, and activities have been created. The University of British Columbia Press and other significant Canadian and heritage distributors distributed the Royal British Columbia Museum in 1993.

The museum contains more than forty printed publications and produces about four volumes annually.

14. A Canoe

A part of the heritage of people and families, artifacts are more than just objects in and of themselves. 

The history of a unique giant dugout freight canoe with the Royal British Columbia Museum’s artifact number 12048 is given below as best I could piece it together. 

The genealogy of individuals and families that is shown is merely a portion of what might be hundreds of individuals. I’m presenting it to highlight a few familial connections that today’s younger Indigenous people can make to the boat and its history. 

This freight canoe’s history demonstrates the migration and blending of people from the west coast of Vancouver Island, particularly the Ditidaht, and families from Sooke, Becher Bay, Saanich, and the Lekwungen, trying to extend to the Discovery Islands off of Oak Bay, to the lower Fraser River, and the Olympic Peninsula.

The magnificent boat in question is regarded as the exhibit centerpiece of the Royal BC Museum. 

Since they were used for resource-gathering and trading, canoes played a significant role in Indigenous peoples of Canada’s culture and intertribal relationships. A Coast Salish chief in the Victoria region in the 19th century traveled there in this specific canoe.

15. An IMAX Theatre

royal british columbia museum
Photo by ILLIYEEN on Unsplash/Copyright 2021

The Royal BC Museum and IMAX Theatre have joined to offer entertaining and instructive movie shows. Only 35 IMAX 4K laser projection systems are available worldwide, yet the theatre’s IMAX screen is the biggest in the province.

An outstanding cinematic experience is provided by the display in British Columbia, IMAX 4K laser technology, and wrap-around digital sound. A potent teaching tool that can readily incorporate into the current curriculum, IMAX movies are excellent entertainment that also adheres to established standards. 

With every group booking, there are readily available teaching tools in print and online to inform and motivate students.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t forget to take advantage of royal bc museum tours. They are perfect to effortlessly learn more about; cultural treasures featured when you visit visit royal bc museum. The royal bc museum gift shop opens at 9 every day. It is  a world-class museum

It also house some very interesting exhibits, like a museum exhibition that shows how the government treated Japanese Canadians or how Queen Elizabeth II granted the “Royal” title, which HRH Prince Philip bestowed. In 2003, the museum and the British Columbia Provincial Archives combined.

Protip: If you want to learn what exhibits at London’s British museum, read royal bc museum reviews on the net to learn what are worthwhile in your experience royal bc museum

However, the following were some fantastic facts about Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where is the Royal Museum of British Columbia?

In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II approved to correspond with a Royal tour, and HRH Prince Philip bestowed the title “Royal.” In 2003, the British Columbia Provincial Archives and the museum combined. In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, the museum is situated.

2. What does the name “Royal Museum of Canada” mean?

In 1987, Queen Elizabeth II approved to correspond with a Royal tour, and HRH Prince Philip bestowed the title “Royal.” In 2003, the British Columbia Provincial Archives and the museum combined.

3. What are the combined museum plus archives of British Columbia?

Intending to gather artifacts, records, and specimens related to British Columbia’s natural and human history, preserving them for the future, and disseminating them globally, these two organizations merged in 2003 to form the combined provincial museum with the archives of British Columbia.

4. The Royal British Columbia Museum’s fossils date back; how long?

There are over 55 000 specimens in the Royal British Columbia Museum’s fossil collection. The collection includes samples from around British Columbia ranging from 600 million years old to only a few hundred.

Last Updated on by alishbarehman


  • Sakina M Saleh

    Sakina Saleh from India is a student pursuing her bachelor's, and she is a blog and article writer who believes in continuous progress, learning and dynamism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *