Thursday 16 January 2014

A Day at the Museum

Before we begin, I'll warn you up front that this is a long post.  There are lots and lots of photos here because I decided to show you the museum rather than tell you about it.  You can see a slideshow of larger views by simply clicking on any of the images in the post.  I encourage you to do so.

It was very wet here last weekend; the kind of weather where the rain comes down in sheets, water finds its way downhill in new-formed waterfalls on every rock face, and low lying fields and roads become small lakes.

I love rainy weather.  It holds it's own beauty and I value the abundance it brings, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I want to spend the day outdoors in it.  

We decided to pass our rainy Sunday at the Royal BC Museum.  I've been in and out of the museum ever since I was just a little kid and we both still enjoy our visits there.

The Royal BC Museum was founded in 1886 and has occupied a number of different locations, moving to its current building at the corner of Belleville and Government Streets, on the inner harbour, right in downtown Victoria, in 1968.  

The famous Empress hotel is located right across the street from the museum in one direction, and the BC Legislature in the other.  On a sunny day, it's a great area for sightseeing.  On a rainy day, the museum exhibits offer enough information and entertainment to keep a person busy for hours.

The ground floor of the museum houses the coffee shop, gift shop, and the IMAX theater.  The gift shop is full of lovely things, mostly made here in BC and the theater is always entertaining, but we were there to see the exhibits, which begin on the second floor.

The featured temporary exhibit featured the photos collected for Wildlife Photographer of the Year by the Natural History Museum.  Because the photos are copyrighted, photography was not permitted in the gallery but I can tell you that they're truly amazing.  If you're in the area before April 6, do stop in to check them out.

Photography is permitted within the rest of the museum, but no flash.  Monopods are permitted, but because of tripping concerns, you cannot set up a tripod.  Most of the exhibits have low light to preserve the artifacts from damage, so long exposures are required.

After enjoying the wildlife photos we moved on to the Living Land, Living Sea exhibit.

All of the exhibits at the museum are quite interactive.  There's a lot of text information, many video presentations, interactive computer stations, and learning stations like this one.

 This is my fella's very favourite exhibit.  He calls this guy Fuzzy.  

There are many strikingly beautiful dioramas throughout the museum, all designed and assembled in-house. The coastal forest diorama is so large, and the hall was so busy with visitors, that I could only photograph a single portion of it.  The trees in the exhibit although startlingly realistic, are molded fiberglass, made from castings of real trees.

Visitors walk from forest to shoreline

and from the shoreline to the Fraser River delta.

From the delta we moved on to my very favourite exhibit, the ocean station.  It features our coastal marine life, viewed from aboard a Jules-Verne-style submarine.

We paused to enjoy the views from the third story lobby before continuing on to the human history exhibits.

The human history exhibits begin with the First Nations gallery, sharing artifacts from BC's First Nations both before and after European contact.  There's a huge amount of information here.  It's possible to give this one exhibit an entire afternoon.

From the First Nations Exhibit, we went to Century Hall, which features interesting displays of  fashion, pop culture, and household artifacts from each decade of the 20th century,  

and then moved on to Old Town.

The Majestic Theatre shows silent movies all day long, and is always popular with children.

My fella always heads straight for the garage.

After Old Town, we boarded the Discovery, and learned a little about BC shipping

Then we headed through the ranching/farming and commercial fishing exhibits.

There is so much to see at the museum!  Much more than I can possibly show you here. If you're in Victoria, do plan on a visit.  

It's a treasure.

If you'd like more detailed information about the museum - it's history, current exhibits, admission fees, or hours of operation - explore the Royal BC Museum website.  It's very informative.

A note about parking and accessibility:

The museum parking lot is small and crowded.  If you are able to walk a short distance, I recommend that you park in the parkade at the Victoria Convention center, across the street.  You access the convention center parking via Blanschard Street.  From there it's just a short walk through lovely gardens and across the street to the museum's main entrance.

If you require wheelchair access, there are designated parking spots in the museum lot, directly in front of the wheelchair ramps.  It's a fair distance to wheel; down the ramps, then across the courtyard and around to the front of the building to the main entrance.  

If you're not in a wheelchair but have limited mobility, I don't recommend that you use the handicapped access because it's a long walk for someone who experiences difficulty moving around. Plan on having someone drop you off in front of the museum instead.

Wheelchairs and elevators are available inside the museum but we found the elevator access to be poorly marked.  Ask the museum staff for assistance.