The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria is so exceptional that Ruth and I have been in it several times. But it wasn’t until the last trip there in 2019 that I understood how it operates from year to year.
There is no bad time to visit The Royal BC Museum, but I would wait until at least May of 2020 to go there. Those who go earlier will be restricted to its permanent galleries. There are 3. They deal with natural history, the formation of British Columbia, and, best of all, its native citizens in the First Peoples Gallery. Since its founding in 1886 this museum has collected more than 7 million objects. It earned the designation of royal when Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Phillip visited in 1987 and she approved the name change. Each year The Royal BC Museum mounts one blockbuster show. The current one is about the Maya and is subtitled “The Great Jaguar Rises”. It closes at the end of this month.
We saw “Race to the End of the Earth” about Antarctica in 2013. The next year the Royal BC Museum became the first stop for an exhibit from the Swedish History Museum that contained 500 Viking artifacts and told the story of these restless explorers. Other blockbuster shows have been about the Titanic, Egypt, and Leonardo da Vinci. The Royal BC museum is between Victoria’s 2 most famous landmarks, the Empress Hotel below and the British Columbia Legislative Building, at 675 Belleville Street.
This year, I learned that this royal museum always has a Wildlife Photographer of the Year show that results from an annual competition. Now in its 54th year, this contest results in animal visions taken by the world’s best nature photographers. It travels around the world from its home base, London’s Natural History Museum, and is a visual stunner that we were lucky enough to see the last time we were in Sydney, Australia. It will be at the Royal BC from February 14 until March 29, 2020. Families love this show. It will be followed by The Royal BC’s big event of the year “Orcas: Our Shared Future”, which will be on view from May 15 until the last day of 2020. We saw some of these splendid predators swimming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on our way to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in October, 2019. Orcas have also been historically known as Killer Whales, and their communities have a complex social structure that will surely be explored in this show.
If you’ve put off a trip to this magnificent city and museum, 2020 might be your best opportunity to see both. Orcas sound like an excellent subject for a major exhibition.