Planning a trip to Victoria?
The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia is a place of discovery. It's a fun place to learn about the adventurous spirit and unique history and culture of British Columbia. Both adults and children are likely to enjoy this museum.
The Royal BC Museum is located one block from Victoria's waterfront and walking distance (2 km) from the cruise port.
Here are my family's favorite exhibits from the Royal BC Museum.
For me, the exhibits about the First Nations of British Columbia were the most fascinating. The Royal BC Museum has dedicated a lot of space on the top floor of the museum to preserving the language, art and culture of the nations who lived here before European colonization, and who still inhabit British Columbia today. Totem Hall is the must-see exhibit at the Royal BC Museum.
My 11-year-old daughter was most wowed by Old Town – a re-creation of a thriving British Columbia town around 1900. In this immersive exhibit, you can watch an early movie in the theater, walk upstairs to the hotel balcony, check out Chinatown, and explore a ship docked at the port. Old Town is one of several engaging exhibits dedicated to the modern history of British Columbia.
This was the exhibit my 8-year-old son was most excited about. He loves otters, whales and other animals of the Pacific Northwest. He is also a fan of dinosaurs, and while I didn't see a many of them at the Royal BC Museum, there was a life-size woolly mammoth and some other ancient fossils on display.
There are several beautiful and lifelike dioramas featuring modern and ancient animals of British Columbia. Look for hands-on exhibits like touch tables and interactive computer displays too.
There are several points of interest outside, including Thunderbird Park and Helmcken House that are included in your admission. Helmcken House is a historic home that is open for tours during summer and winter breaks. The tour is brief and appropriate for families. We were allowed to play the 200-year-old piano, because its owner loved music and that's what it was meant for. My son is finishing his first year of piano lessons, and he treated us to his favorite song: the Star Wars Main Theme.
We are suckers for IMAX at museums like this. IMAX movies are typically both spectacular and educational. They are also a good opportunity to relax in climate controlled comfort for an hour. That's something I need regularly on a family vacation.
We saw Gold Fever, which went well with the special Gold Rush exhibit at the Royal BC Museum. IMAX Victoria at the Royal BC Museum also shows new Hollywood blockbusters in IMAX. For a current schedule, visit www.imaxvictoria.com.
Look for special traveling exhibitions when you visit. Gold Rush, an exhibit dedicated to the pursuit of gold across the globe and specifically to the gold rush in British Columbia in the mid-1800's. It was all real gold, and I've never seen so many security guards in a museum exhibit!
I learned a lot, and enjoyed several hands-on Gold Rush activities with my son. We especially liked the scale where we could see what our weight is worth in gold. Between the two of us, it was millions! At last, a place where a few extra pounds served me well.
Disclosure: I received two complimentary adult admissions from Tourism Victoria for the purpose of review. I received no additional compensation for this post and all opinions are my own.
Good to Know
Where: 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, British Columbia. The Royal BC Museum is located near the waterfront, across from the Parliament Buildings.
When: Open every day except Christmas and New Year's Day, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Hours are extended in the summer.
How Much: There are multiple ticket options – one day, two days, IMAX alone, museum+IMAX… Ticket prices for the Royal BC Museum start at $17 for adults. Kids ages 0-5 get in free. Link to the current rate schedule here.
How Long: 3-4 hours
Amenities: Gift shops, Cafe. During the summer, look for local food trucks in the courtyard behind the museum.
How else can I help?
Need a great place to stay in Victoria? We stayed in a beautiful family-sized suite at Parkside Hotel and Spa – just a block or so from the Royal BC Museum. Click the button below to see rates and availability for Parkside Hotel and other top Victoria hotels on TripAdvisor.com.
Want more ideas for your Victoria trip? There are so many fun things to do in Victoria, British Columbia. Click the Next button to get tips for touring the British Columbia Parliament Buildings across the street from the Royal BC Museum. Or, visit my British Columbia page to see all our articles about British Columbia.
Tamara Gruber (@tgruber)
The First People and Old Town exhibits sound really interesting. Canada seems to do such a better job showcasing their whole history than the US does.
What a fun and educational museum!
This looks like my kind of a museum!