The Provincial Museum was founded in 1886 to preserve, classify, exhibit and keep for British Columbia the cultural objects of First Nations and natural history. This is still part of the Royal BC Museum’s mandate 130 years later—but in a very different way. Collaborations that began in the 1950s led to increasing First Nations presence in the museum and stronger links between communities and collections. Since the 1970s, formal partnerships have become the norm. Most recently, the museum partnered with First Peoples’ Cultural Council to produce the award-winning exhibition Our Living Languages. We are working to improve access to museum and archival collections, and to ensure our practices are compatible with First Nations ways of knowing.
In 2017 a new First Nations department was created, incorporating the anthropology and archaeology collections. In addition to continuing the important work that collections staff have undertaken for decades, the department is responsible for the repatriation of ancestral remains, sacred cultural objects, and intangible cultural heritage to Indigenous communities. To read more about their work, see First Nations.
In line with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission we are further revitalizing our policies and responsive practices. The following represent some of the ways in which other departments at the Royal BC Museum and Archives are heeding the Calls to Action and embracing the spirit of reconciliation.