Royal BC Museum Announces Upcoming Changes to Core Galleries

The Royal BC Museum announced today that it will begin closing sections of the third floor to start the process of decolonization in these galleries, in response to the call to action from Indigenous leaders to increase cultural safety and ensure the museum is a welcome place for everyone. Minor closures will begin in November, leading up to a full closure of the third floor as of January 2, 2022.

The Royal BC Museum third floor comprises the First Peoples gallery, Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in BC exhibition, and Becoming BC gallery. A phased approach to closure allows British Columbians to plan a visit (on or before December 31, 2021) to exhibits as they were originally built.

“Decolonization of the museum’s galleries is important and long overdue,” says acting CEO Daniel Muzyka. “As part of our work to implement modernized museum practices, in particular our efforts around decolonization, we will be closing the third-floor so we can decant our galleries. This is necessary to begin the long-term work of creating new narratives that include under-represented voices and reflect the lived experiences and contemporary stories of the people in BC.”

The phased closure of the third floor will begin with the mezzanines in the Becoming BC gallery, which have largely focused on promoting the story of the European settlement of BC. Every effort will be made to mitigate the impact to visitors through to the end of the year.

During the third-floor closure, the Royal BC Museum staff will continue to offer opportunities for community engagement with visitors and tourists through webinars, online learning and virtual tours. The museum will also expand its provincial travelling exhibition and pop-up exhibit programs, including installations across Greater Victoria.

“Our government’s commitment to truth and reconciliation demands that we diversify and decolonize the way we share the history of B.C.,” says Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, Hon. Melanie Mark. “For too long, museums have been colonial institutions that exclude others from telling their own stories. We have an opportunity to turn the museum inside out, and it starts here, now, on the museum’s third floor.”

Further Resources

Becoming BC Gallery

Explore immersive exhibits such as Old Town and HMS Discovery, and journey through the decades in Century Hall. https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/visit/exhibitions/becoming-bc-gallery

First Peoples Gallery

Experience the rich diversity and living cultures of First Peoples in British Columbia. https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/visit/exhibitions/first-peoples-gallery

A Focus for Change

The Royal BC Museum commits to a continuous journey of greater equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/about/focus-change

FAQ

  • What is happening on the museum’s third floor?

    In consultation in 2019 we heard from British Columbians and they want us to act, to make bold changes that will include the voices and reflect the lived experiences of the communities and peoples in the land we call British Columbia today.

    The Royal BC Museum will begin closing sections of the third floor so staff can begin to disassemble exhibits and remove artifacts and specimens back into collections areas for conservation treatment.

    Minor closures will begin in November 2021, leading up to a full closure of the third floor as of January 2, 2022.

    Closing and disassembling the third floor galleries is an important first step on a journey to broaden historical narratives and foster inclusivity. 

    The museum’s third floor galleries were developed a half century ago, and through a lens that does not represent a full and inclusive story of the many groups who have contributed to modern British Columbia.  

    When we close the third floor, we will disassemble the galleries, and embark on an extensive process of community engagement and consultation with the people of British Columbia.  We will seek to hear lived experiences that will lead us on a journey to create a broad and inclusive narrative, that fully represents our many histories.  Adding new voices to the galleries will expand our shared understanding of the province and the peoples who call British Columbia home.

  • Which exhibits will be affected?

    There will be minimal closures of the third floor galleries, with limited impact to visitors, starting in November. The phased closures will affect lower-traffic areas such as the mezzanine levels Forestry and Mining. All three of the third-floor galleries (Becoming BC, First Peoples Gallery and Our Living Languages) will be closed as of January 2nd 2022.

  • Are you removing stories of early settler history?

    No, we are looking to broaden the narrative to be inclusive of all peoples of modern British Columbia.  European-settler history is a part of BC history, and it will always be represented in the museum.  All of our histories are important and want we want to ensure we represent a true diversity of the stories of the past.

    The exhibitions on the third floor are being disassembled, as we work to create fully inclusive galleries.  We understand that immersive exhibits such as Old Town have been cherished by some visitors and will be missed.  This is very valuable feedback that will help to inform the way we look to present future exhibitions.

  • How can I give feedback on this process?

    The work being done to modernize the Royal BC Museum is about embracing the opportunity to ensure that all of our histories are captured in a meaningful and respectful way to promote a shared understanding.  We want to ensure that we are a museum that serves all British Columbians. 

    We will do that through community engagement and public consultation.  There will be formal opportunities to provide input as this process moves forward.  You can sign up to be notified about these opportunities by subscribing to the museum’s newsletter via our website.

    Your feedback is important and it will help to inform the development of inclusive and immersive galleries in the future.  We are looking to craft exhibitions that will inspire and be cherished by future generations, and we’ll do this is partnership with the people of BC.

  • How long will the third floor be closed?

    The process of creating new narratives for these galleries is long and requires a thoughtful process of community outreach, consultation and collaboration. We expect this work to take a number of years to complete.

  • Why does this need to happen now?

    In consultation in 2019 we heard from British Columbians and they want us to act, to make bold changes that will include the voices and reflect the lived experiences of the communities and peoples in the land we call British Columbia today.  Closing the third floor galleries is the first step on a journey to doing this.

    The museum’s galleries were developed a half century ago though a Eurocentric lens that does not accurately capture a full and inclusive story of many groups who have contributed to the province’s diversity, resilience, and strength.  It’s important that our collective history is accurately reflected in the museum’s exhibits.

    It takes time to make a change.  We will disassemble the exhibitions and return the artifacts to collections for conservation while at the same time, we’ll embark on community engagement and consultation to help craft the new galleries.

  • What will the new galleries look like?

    We are at the very beginning of the process of creating new galleries.  British Columbians will shape what the new galleries will look like.  The lived experiences that are shared, and the way in which they are presented will be informed through extensive community engagement and consultation. 

    We will seek out diverse perspectives on BC identity—especially from institutionally underrepresented voices—to broaden historical narratives and foster inclusivity.

    We understand that immersive exhibits such as Old Town have been cherished by some visitors and will be missed.  This is very valuable feedback that will help to inform the way we look to present future exhibitions.

    You can sign up to be notified about these opportunities by subscribing to the museum’s newsletter via our website.

  • How will people learn about BC Human History with these galleries closed?

    The Learning Portal and teacher’s learning aids created and managed by the museum are incredible, freely accessible online resources to learn about all aspects of BC.

    The museum will continue to offer opportunities for community outreach and additional engagement through outreach, webinars, online learning and virtual tours. The museum will also expand its provincial travelling exhibition and pop-up exhibit programs, including installations across Greater Victoria.  As we finalize these programs, we’ll share information through the Royal BC Museum website and social channels.

  • When will community engagement and consultation on the new narratives start?

    Initial consultation was undertaken in 2019 and we will be reaching out to engage communities across the province to ensure that the experiences and contributions of British Columbians are heard and included.

    There will be formal opportunities to provide input and you can sign up to be notified about these opportunities by subscribing to the museum’s newsletter via our website.

  • Will the price of museum admission be affected?

    Yes. Effective January 2, 2022, museum admission will return to base rates of $18.00, from our current rate of $26.95.  This includes admission to the highly successful feature exhibition, Orcas: Our Shared Future, which had been extended from January until March 31st 2022.

  • Why has the museum stopped selling memberships?

    Existing memberships will be honoured.

    Those who wish to cancel their membership (due to the third-floor closure) will receive a pro-rated refund.

  • Will the BC Archives or IMAX® Victoria be affected?

    No, the BC Archives and IMAX® Victoria are not affected by the closure of the third floor.

You are here