A new state-of-the-art and seismically safe Royal BC Museum (RBCM) is coming to Victoria and will be more accessible for all British Columbians.
The new museum will reflect the experiences and perspectives of all who contributed to B.C.’s history, providing a cultural legacy for generations to come. The new museum is made possible through a $789-million investment from the Province.
“For decades, people from British Columbia and around the globe have come to the Royal BC Museum to learn about our special corner of the world. For just as long, the stories told here have failed to accurately reflect our colonial history or include everyone, and priceless collections are now being put at risk in an aging building,” said Premier John Horgan. “That’s why today, we are making this historic investment to build a safer, more inclusive and accessible modern building. Once complete, the new museum will be a flagship destination for tourism and a place where generations to come will learn about the richness and diversity of B.C.’s history.”
Like the Royal BC Museum’s collections and research building in Colwood, the new museum will be built to achieve high efficiency for all its HVAC systems. Both buildings will incorporate mass timber construction to leverage B.C.’s strengths in building innovation and support good jobs. These approaches will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
The new museum will also be one of the first government projects of this size that partners with local First Nations on the project team, participating in both project development and delivery, including design influence to reflect the Lekwungen peoples, and members of the Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation.
“Our government is working hard to build B.C.’s museum for the next generation. We are turning the walls inside out to create a dynamic and engaging space that will be the province’s flagship historical centre, inclusive of all the stories of the people who have shaped B.C.,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Museums are more important than ever to be a canvas for our history and inspiration for our future. Our partnership with the local First Nations to guide us to this stage is truly reconciliation in action. From the exhibits and programs to the employees and building itself, we are bringing the people’s museum into the 21st century.”
The new museum will reflect the input from consultations with British Columbians and Indigenous communities captured in the report What We Heard. It will broaden existing cultural displays and content to reflect B.C.’s authentic history in a respectful way that demonstrates broader perspectives and inclusivity, including the voices and experiences of all communities, and will be a catalyst to building relationships throughout the province.
It will be a museum for everyone in British Columbia. Museum exhibitions and content will be accessible to communities outside the Capital Regional District through travelling exhibitions and digital content, such as 3D tours and online programs.
The new buildings will also ensure modern accessibility standards are addressed, removing physical, sensory and cultural barriers. The museum’s design will support Indigenous territory recognition and incorporate ceremonial, cultural and celebratory spaces.
“The way in which we share and learn from the truths and lived experiences of our past is fundamental to how we build our future and strengthen the fabric of our communities,” said Alicia Dubois, CEO, Royal BC Museum. “Museums have a unique responsibility to promote understanding, inspire growth and change, and give hope to future generations. The work to modernize the Royal BC Museum is a legacy project that will enrich, inspire and continue to benefit British Columbians and Indigenous Peoples for generations to come. Everyone in the province will have access to a modern museum like never before.”
Continued robust engagement with British Columbians, local businesses and Indigenous communities will inform the exhibitions and programming for the new state-of-the-art museum.
British Columbians and visitors will be able to experience the collections and exhibitions at the downtown Victoria site until September 2022, when the museum will close.
While the museum building is closed, the Royal BC Museum will extend its presence and engage with communities throughout British Columbia. Provincewide travelling exhibitions, regional satellite displays and an interactive walking tour in Victoria will help make the museum accessible to all British Columbians. Unique events, community programs and learning experiences will be offered throughout the province, along with innovative virtual programs and digital tools available to all.
The museum will work with local partners to create a presence in the Royal BC Museum Plaza and throughout Victoria to continue to support tourism in the region.
RBCM will contribute to the modernization project through its fundraising campaigns.
The museum will close its doors on Sept. 6, 2022. BC Archives services will not be disrupted and will remain open at the downtown site until it moves to its new permanent home at the collections and research building in 2025. Imax Victoria, the museum’s gift shop and the food trucks located at the museum will stay open through early 2023.
The new museum will bring significant economic and social benefits to the region, supporting more than 1,950 direct construction jobs, as well as more than 1,050 associated jobs, which will all contribute to B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery.
The new modernized provincial museum is expected to open in 2030.