Orcas: Our Shared Future Makes a Splash at the Royal BC Museum

April 16, 2021

VICTORIA, BC—Today marks a particularly splashy world premiere at the Royal BC Museum: the launch of Orcas: Our Shared Future, a compelling new feature exhibition that will run through January 9, 2022.

Delayed a year by COVID-19, the much-anticipated exhibition offers a deep dive into the stories and science that surround the magnificent orca—spirit of British Columbia’s wild coast and apex predator of all oceans.

Through dramatic displays (including three life-size orca replicas), immersive games and provocative videos, visitors of all ages will explore currents of ecological activism, popular culture and Indigenous beliefs to gain a deeper understanding of how orcas and humans are inextricably connected.

“In 2018, it broke our hearts to watch Tahlequah, or J35 as the whale has come to be known by researchers, carry her stillborn calf at the surface of the sea for more than two weeks. This tragic confirmation of orcas’ complex emotional lives provided an indelible reminder that change is urgently needed,” said Royal BC Museum Acting CEO Dr. Daniel Muzyka at last night’s virtual gala for the exhibition. “The exhibition is also a clear call-to-action: take note now of what’s happening to the orca.”

Among the 100+ artifacts on display are unique cultural objects by Indigenous artists, including an Articulated Dance Mask by Richard Hunt (Kwaguilth); an intricately carved Gold Killer Whale Box by Bill Reid (Haida); and a specially commissioned painting by Haida manga artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

Visitors to the exhibition will also find sophisticated interactive stations that strive to translate orca experiences into human sensations. These include Acoustic Turbulence, an interactive artwork that visualizes underwater noise pollution generated by large ocean vessels, created by local artist Colton Hash. Noise pollution is particularly significant to the Southern Resident orcas, as it reduces their ability to hunt through echolocation.

Orcas: Our Shared Future is produced by the Royal BC Museum in partnership with MuseumsPartner, who collaborated on the recent Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises and Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs exhibitions, in 2019 and 2018 respectively. The exhibition is supported by the Royal BC Museum Foundation, the Port of Vancouver, Parks Canada, the Times Colonist, BC Transit and Eagle Wing Tours.

The Royal BC Museum is committed to the highest standard of pandemic safety protocols; please visit rbcm.ca/covidsafety for details. To purchase timed tickets, visit: rbcm.ca/orcas.



About the Royal BC Museum:  The Royal BC Museum explores the province’s human history and natural history, advances new knowledge and understanding of BC, and provides a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection. The museum and archives celebrate culture and history, telling the stories of BC in ways that enlighten, stimulate and inspire. Located in Victoria on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations), we are a hub of community connections in BC–onsite, offsite and online–taking pride in our collective histories.

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Wesley Macinnis
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