Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Royal BC Museum

So, not only 24 hours into my adventure, and I had already lost something (though I suspect it got packed into someone’s luggage by accident) so Heather and I went out on a mini-adventure to find a new lock. A half an hour and two unexpected purchases later, I finally found it and returned to lock my hostel locker.  After that mild drama, it was off to the Royal BC Museum– a simply magnificent museum that we spent the day in. Originally we were going to split the day between the Royal BC and the Maritime Museum, but I nixed that idea. I knew that we would need an entire day for the museum – and I was right!

 It was an experience. I was enthralled by the sheer scope of the museum and the truly inventive design of their layout. I was completely blown away. I would have to say that the “third floor” was my favorite, so I’ll start there.

The “third floor” (and you’ll see why I use quotation marks in a minute) contains both the “Streets of Old” exhibit as well as the “First Nations” exhibit and wow, I gotta tell you, it was FAN-TASTIC.

There was some very nice finagling of stairs and space. Not only was I blown away by the respect and dignity given to the artifacts in the exhibits, as well as the inventive way the artifacts were arranged to illustrate how they were originally used, but I was very impressed by how they managed to fit so many artifacts into a medium-sized space, yet not feel overcrowded in the least! I can say that I think this museum is “doin’ it right” by the First Peoples and their artifacts. Of course, this is only conjecture from what I viewed – I did no other research, but this is my first impression. But there are so many platforms, stairs, and winding tunnel-hallway things that this part of the building feels like 1 ½ to 2 floors within itself, rather than one!


So that was the First Nations exhibit, but now on to the Streets of Old. My mind nearly breaks contemplating how it’s put together. Not only does it have a main street (with a building you can enter and go up to an expansive second floor), but a two-floor saw mill (with running water!), a movie theater, a cannery, a Chinatown, and half a ship! This is accompanied by various hallways with text, artifacts, and information. I’m usually good with spatial recognition while wandering around in buildings (as long as I have a map), but each place I walked opened up into someone else, new and wonderful. It was breath-taking, mind-breaking, and a whole ‘nother bunch of hyphenated adjectives.

Old Town

Saw Mill


Upper floor

I was (again) completely blown away by the level of detail in the second floor’s dioramas as well. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Not only did they have running water in the forest dioramas, but they also piped in fresh air and did something into the room that made it sound all echo-y – as if you were in a large open space, like a forest! They had docents aplenty in there, but what really nabbed my attention was the series of exhibits on the effects of climate change. Oh, look at me being all politic and stuff. These were straight-forward exhibits that told the viewer plain and simple that the climate is changing and here’s what’s happening now and here’s what’s probably going to happen in the future. Good Lord, in a provincial museum. I was stunned, but I don’t really know why Maybe because of my previous involvement in Climate Change exhibits where one was advised to stay as neutral as possible and let the viewer come to their own conclusion. And I guess that was what was happening here as well? It just seemed a bit blatant to me. Maybe this is also because I can’t imagine such a great museum like this one in the US even considering such an expensive and extensive exhibit without fear of extreme public backlash? It was so gratifying to see what I believe put into a museum exhibit with no nancy-pambling bumbling about the actual point that these changes are happening because of our actions and these changes have consequences!

Other than the excellent dioramas and exhibits mentioned above, there was an exhibit which I will lovingly call the “time tunnel” until I remember its actual name. The Time Tunnel was actually more of a long, snaking hallway with artifacts from the past of British Colombia displayed in glass cases on one side (such as bones and the like), while a running timeline, touchable artifact replicas, and other interactive education devices decorated the other. I was, as I seem to be saying a lot lately, very impressed.

During this grand exploration, we did stop for a lunch break, I’ll have you know. We went to a place called The Old Sphagehetti Factory and it was not only delicious, but a good deal as well!

On the way we saw some more totem poles!


And lunch for the right price!

After nearly spending the whole day at the Royal BC, we headed to St. Anne’s for the scenery. Originally a covenant/boarding school, right now the old building just stands and looks pretty, while more modern buildings house the nuns and students of today. The original building is available to be seen as part of the Royal BC, so this was a nice follow-up to our previous adventures. Heather and I had fun goofing off on the grounds.

Then it was off to the chocolate shop and Chinatown!

Saw some friends on the way there

 Heather showed me this upper long, snaky, old alleyway where gambling and opium dens used to occur: we even went into one of the shops that used to be one! I got the layout of this one down, though! Then we walked to the Spice Grinder for some Indian/African blend cuisine. I had the Chicken Tikki and the garlic naan, with some sort of cardamom spice ice cream for dessert! It was like heaven on my tongue. I enjoyed it greatly.

The alley

After dinner it was time to walk down to the waterfront for Symphony Splash. Despite the (to my American mind) minimal fireworks it was indeed enjoyable. We then walked down to see Chinatown lit up for the night. What a sight!

I had some chocolate from the chocolate shop

No comments:

Post a Comment