Treasures for Generations


A message from Professor Jack Lohman CBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal BC Museum:

In 1886, The Museum was established to preserve BC’s natural history and to keep “Indian Antiquities” (as they were called) from leaving the province. In 2017, more than 125 years on, the Royal BC Museum will draw on private and public collections worldwide to hold a major exhibition that reunites BC’s cultural heritage for British Columbians. This unique display of First Nations material will mark BC’s distinct place in Canada’s 150 year festivities. The exhibition will boldly affirm the museum’s new approach. From an innovative display on First Nations Languages opening in 2014 to more appealing redesigned buildings, the Museum wants culture to be a cause for celebration. Improved digital platforms and national partnerships will extend that cultural reach even further. The Royal BC Museum in 2017 will be a refreshed modern museum. We will advance knowledge about BC though our collections, presentations, expertise and partnerships. Bigger thinking, better design, bolder ambitions—these will mark what we do for the benefit of the society and economy of British Columbia.

Survey—Share Your Thoughts

Take the Regional Community Consultation survey here

The 5 Key Issues

Enhancing the entrance experience

  • Expansion and improvement to renew and transform the visitor experience
  • ​Engage with a new landscape and improved entrance sequence
  • ​A generous free space, a year round community living room, a potential venue for political and social events, a beacon, and should provide a taste of a fuller Museum experience.
  • Optimizing ground floor space and improving revenue operations
  • Creating opportunities to connect schools
  • First project? How to deliver immediate impact without curtailing the medium and long term needs of the museum

Creating a refreshed exhibitions experience

  • Relocating temporary exhibits to ground floor and completing the BC ‘story’ makes great sense, enables greater opportunities for world class exhibitions
  • A new venue for a major exhibition that reunites BC’s cultural heritage for British Columbians in 2017 that will draw on private and public collections worldwide
  • Promotion of Emily Carr—a permanent space for a local artist with international appeal
  • Resolution of circulation‐telling the story through a meaningful and legible journey
  • An inspiring orientation space in conjunction with the lobby that showcases chosen collections; a ‘great hall’

Safeguarding the archive

  • Seismic upgrade, building envelope condition and preservation risk well documented
  • Reused as part of a conference, café, retail, auditorium building after retrofit
  • Significant investments will be required to re-purpose archive building
  • Combined with an improved lobby experience investment could significantly contribute to the overall improvement to the visitor experience, education, family album possibilities and research facilities
  • Relocation of archive facilities to either Fannin or new purpose built accommodation

Protecting the collections and determining the best future use for Fannin Tower

  • Seismic upgrade, building envelope condition and preservation risk well documented
  • Floor-to-floor heights and column grid inefficiencies make the building 50% less efficient than purpose built collections storage
  • Significant investments will be required to re-purpose Fannin Building
  • These investments may not contribute to the visitor experience and functionality; Seismic upgrade + extend floor plates + re-clad + hvac = significant investment; VFM?
  • Other uses; archive, consolidated administration, rental/3rd party

Managing change sustainably

  • Space need should continue to be challenged—It’s also about efficiency and consolidation; Growth needs to be managed
  • Currently Royal BC Museum occupies 310,061 sf (28,816 SM)
  • Space increase (need) reduces by half if collections are re-purposed in new ‘fit-for-purpose’ building
  • Long term strategy vs. Initial impact / game-changing project—tension or opportunity?
  • Improved environmental conditions and carbon use; energy, water and waste—improved revenue and operating costs

The 10 Opportunities

A new entrance and reception building

To improve the initial impressions and the entrance threshold for every visitor to the museum; a key marker to signal the intent of the phased strategy to transform the visitor experience. A welcoming point of entry, payment and reception. A new cafe above the entrance that visually connects to the harbour and the wider setting—a destination. Reflection and meeting space; a living room for Victoria.

A new foyer and orientation space; re-working the circulation

Re-connection of all buildings through an improved circulation strategy so that the movement through the museum is not only logical and legible but improves the narrative of the exhibitions. Improvements to the existing Clifford Carl Hall will complete the ground floor renovation. The premise will be to use circulation as part of the exhibition to strengthen the BC story.

Retail enhancement

To redevelop a highly visible corner of the Museum, consolidating the shop and making better use of the building’s volume to offer a more coherent retail experience in a place of quality that supports the Royal BC Museum brand and character.

A permanent location for the work of Emily Carr

To display currently hidden and important works of art. A permanent space that explains Emily Carr’s story, her connection to Victoria and her artistic chronicling of British Columbia and First Nations peoples.

Relocating the temporary exhibition space at ground floor

To provide an exhibition destination on the ground floor that is more accessible and serviceable. This will free up space at the second floor for a permanent exhibition of more of the collection.

An enhanced public realm

To ground the Museum within a landscape that is a destination in its own right by extending the impact of Thunderbird Park, creating a place of amenity that is extended and connected to the building in a way that extends the exhibition and collection, while resolving issues of level access and removing the clutter of bins, benches and signage to create an elegant landscape setting.

Completing the BC story—making more of the collection visible to the public

To display the depth of the museum”s collection, a new permanent exhibition in which natural history (paleontology, biology, botany, entomology, birds and mammals) is to be consolidated into a new collection that is visible and part of the Museum experience—“completing” the BC story.

New collections, archive and research centre

A state of the art facility to protect the collection for further generations, to allow greater access to the collection and archive for research and to make visible the processes of conservation and curatorship. A ‘special project’ to extend the centennial building and reconnect the collection with the exhibition.

Re-purposing the Fannin tower

Refurbish and redevelop Fannin Tower for further office space. Use the tower for uses more suited to its footprint. Address the issues of MEP, seismic and facade upgrades to create new space for the administration of the museum which will also allow the space to be leased for compatible third party use.

A new conference building and landscape

A new conference facility that will create a new revenue stream, promote the work of the museum and be a venue for a multitude of different events, and which provides an external focal point for visitors through a reworked entrance landscape that offers an event space and new amenity at the key corner of the site.

The Context: Timeline

The Context: Site Map

You are here