Friday, 21 October 2011

Royal BC Museum

A visit to Victoria is not complete without a visit to the Royal British Columbia Museum. Archaeologist Husband’s Aunt was kind enough to drive us to the harbour area next to the Museum so we had a free afternoon for ourselves. This is a very enjoyable museum and we spent hours there. Naturally, for a long while Number One Son took his default museum position and had a good snooze in his stroller.

The museum had quite a splendid Behind the Scenes exhibition in which all different collections at the natural history department are introduced. The exhibition did not only show which insects or mammal specimens there are but it described the local habitat and explained how different researchers use the collections and why these collections are important. This dimension – what use the collections actually have beyond their basic preservation function – is so often not apparent in the museums but here it was crystal clear. The displays also presented curators as persons with their own specialities and interests. Number One Son performed his favourite museum act and ran around the exhibits. He was just too short and not tall enough to see the selection of live creepy crawlers on display. However, he enjoyed some of the children’s activities. This is truly an inclusive museum for all to enjoy.

Of the more adult offerings I enjoyed the street scenes in the modern history gallery. Different structures presented the different industries in British Columbia, among them mining, salmon fisheries and logging. The most memorable section without doubt was a reconstruction of streets with little shops and other establishments that showed how the town life was in Victoria during the 19th century. These also displayed the versatile collections of the museum.

Museum also has a large section describing the history of the First Peoples. Luckily, Number One Son was blissfully asleep throughout this section so we could properly find out how these peoples were wiped out by the western diseases. It is tragic how their villages with their totem poles were left deserted. All those empty villages for Emily Carr to paint.

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