RBCM Modernization

The Royal BC Museum is partnering with the BC government to modernize the museum and archives. It’s a time of transformation, anticipation and excitement.

A modern provincial museum will allow us to better preserve and protect British Columbia’s vast collections.

Incorporating diverse ways of knowing, new technologies and purpose-built spaces will give people better access to the province’s human and natural history and allow us to be a museum and archives for all communities in BC.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Modernizing how we steward our past will help build a better future for everyone in BC.

Learn more about the Royal BC Museum Modernization.

Vision

Our Present

The Royal BC Museum strives to be a trusted source of knowledge about the people, lands and pivotal historical events that have shaped British Columbia. Our extraordinary collections and archives, our research and the public enthusiasm for the stories we share and the work we do all contribute to our impact.

The Royal BC Museum provides outstanding education, training and lifelong learning experiences. We host school groups from all over BC and develop teaching and learning experiences to support evolving school curricula. At a more advanced level, we provide training and internship opportunities for the next generation of researchers and scientists.

The Royal BC Museum is committed to the repatriation of Indigenous cultural belongings and Ancestral remains.

We are deeply committed to acting on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

Our Future

The Royal BC Museum will be a world-leading museum and gathering place that invites the public to learn with their minds and their senses—not as spectators, but as full participants in the life of the museum, democratizing knowledge and the experience of discovery.

The museum will continue to work with Indigenous communities on repatriation. We will ensure Indigenous voices are heard and included, and that the interpretation of Indigenous cultures is led by Indigenous communities.

We will seek out diverse perspectives on BC identity, especially underrepresented voices, broadening cultural narratives and fostering inclusivity.

The Narrative

For the Royal BC Museum, “modernization” is about much more than building a new state-of-the-art building. The decision to modernize is a practical response to many staff, visitor and user needs, and will offer new and improved ways to engage with collections, expertise and exhibitions.

Our priorities for a modern museum are:

  • Accessibility
  • Including a diversity of narratives
  • Reconciliation

In the modernized Royal BC Museum, accessibility will be one of our priorities. The modernized museum and archives must also capture a greater diversity of narratives, reflecting more perspectives of the communities that have helped build the province.

To meet these community needs requires a completely new approach to the buildings, and a reconsideration of how we collect, steward and share stories. We are tackling this massive undertaking in phases.

Phase One: Collections and Research Building

Colwood, BC, Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations)

The first major component of the modernized museum will be the creation of the Collections and Research Building (CRB) in Royal Bay, Colwood.

It will house the Royal BC Museum’s collections, the BC Archives and spaces for researchers, scientists, knowledge-keepers and the community. The new seismically engineered building will use mass timber construction and meet CleanBC energy efficiency standards.

We are grateful to the Lekwungen peoples for welcoming this project in their traditional territories. We look forward to working together for many years to come.

Staff members from the Museum and Archives are taking a closer look at the CRB site through their professional lenses. You can learn more here.

 View our Collections and Research Building site gallery here.

Phase Two: Royal BC Museum

Downtown Victoria, BC, Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations)

The main museum site, including the public galleries and feature exhibition spaces, will remain at the Royal BC Museum’s current location in downtown Victoria.

The BC government is committed to redeveloping this downtown museum space and is expected to announce plans later this year (2021).

Community Engagement

In spring 2019, staff from the BC Government consulted with British Columbians, asking how a modern provincial museum could most effectively collaborate with and tell the stories of BC’s diverse communities. 

You can read more about this process of engagement and review the final reports, which have been integrated into recommendations for next steps. ​

In fall 2019, the Royal BC Museum held a multi-day workshop with Indigenous leaders and community members. The recommendations from those discussions has led to the framework and plan for continued engagement and consultation throughout the modernization process.

Welcoming members of the community to provide their perspective on priorities is an important part of how we operate. In 2019, we held a multi-day series of charrettes to discuss the roll-out of the Indigenous Artist Co-op Program. Participants included the museum’s Indigenous Advisory and Advocacy Committee; chiefs from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, Indigenous artists, youth, special interest community members, educators and experts recommended by Indigenous staff and collaborators.

As we move forward with modernization of the museum and archives, we want to hear from you how the CRB can meet your needs. The Royal BC Museum will soon begin a process of continuous engagement.

We invite you to play a pivotal role in deliberating, discussing and deciding on our future programs and plans.

Formal engagement sessions with Indigenous communities began in the Spring of 2021. More outreach and sessions will roll out in Fall, 2021.

We’re broadening the way we see our role. As collaborators and partners, we want to include the stories of the many other peoples and communities that make up BC. We aim to work towards meaningful shared goals that are reflected in the service we offer.

We will post upcoming dates, times and registration details for these engagement sessions here.

Packing a Museum

Packing up the museum’s collections—more than seven million artifacts, specimens and cultural belongings—and the archives’ 27 kilometres of records will take an enormous amount of planning and work.

Staff members are already hard at work organizing this huge project.

And the work of excavating rarely seen materials is resulting in some fascinating stories, as we’ve rediscovered historical oddities and treasures from the collections. You can learn more here

Media

Visit our Press Room.

Learn more about the Royal BC Museum Modernization.

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