Becoming BC galleries

Modern History


The collection’s focus is on objects that tell the story of life in BC through material culture. A relatively new part of the museum, Modern History was established in the 1960s as part of the construction of the new museum building, although it contains earlier donations transferred from the British Columbia Archives.

About the Collection

The 165,000 objects include objects relating to: BC’s ethnic history; items on the history of manufacturing and business, such as canneries, mining and breweries; professional activities and organizations such as public health and medicine, policing and surveying, and groups such as the Women’s Institute. The collection documents the changing material culture of daily domestic life, including collections focused on furniture. There are unique collections, such as BC ceramics, hotelware and locally made silverware. The textile collection is particularly strong research area, with over 10,000 textile items, ranging from quilts, samplers and lace to examples of several centuries of costume.


Our mandate is to collect items made, or used, in BC; of significance to BC’s history; or illustrative of life in the province.

Approximately 2% of the collection is on display or on loan to other accredited institutions at any given time, resulting in the movement of approximately 500 items a year. While we do, on occasion, purchase objects, most of our collection has been donated by the public. If you have an object of significance to the history of BC, we would like to hear from you. For example, we are currently interested in acquiring items related to immigration to BC after World War II.

The collection is open to members of the public and researchers by appointment.

Access to Collection

As we are preparing to move to the Collections and Research Building in Colwood, we have reduced capacity to accommodate loans/acquisitions at this time. We are assessing loans/acquisitions on a case-by-case basis. While we are no longer accepting unsolicited donations, exceptions may be made for items of cultural significance, repatriation of Indigenous collection items, and research purposes. Repository agreements are also exempt.

Get in Touch