VICTORIA — B.C. officials are planning to build a new state-of-the-art and seismically safe Royal BC Museum (RBCM) in Victoria while working closely with the province’s First Nations groups.
The province plans to spend $789 million on the project.
“For decades, people from British Columbia and around the globe have come to the Royal BC Museum to learn about our special corner of the world. For just as long, the stories told here have failed to accurately reflect our colonial history or include everyone, and priceless collections are now being put at risk in an aging building,” said Premier John Horgan in a statement. “That’s why today, we are making this historic investment to build a safer, more inclusive and accessible modern building. Once complete, the new museum will be a flagship destination for tourism and a place where generations to come will learn about the richness and diversity of B.C.’s history.”
Officials plan for the museum’s design to include high-efficiency HVAC systems and mass timber. The province noted these approaches will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
The building will also be one of the first public projects of its size that partners with local First Nations on the project team, participating in both project development and delivery, including design influence to reflect the Lekwungen peoples, and members of the Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation.
“Our government is working hard to build B.C.’s museum for the next generation. We are turning the walls inside out to create a dynamic and engaging space that will be the province’s flagship historical centre, inclusive of all the stories of the people who have shaped B.C.,” said Melanie Mark, minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport. “Museums are more important than ever to be a canvas for our history and inspiration for our future. Our partnership with the local First Nations to guide us to this stage is truly reconciliation in action.”
The approach stems from consultations with B.C. residents and Indigenous communities captured in the What We Heard report. The province added it wants the design to adhere to modern accessibility, including removing physical, sensory and cultural barriers.
The museum’s design will support Indigenous territory recognition and incorporate ceremonial, cultural and celebratory spaces, officials said.
“The way in which we share and learn from the truths and lived experiences of our past is fundamental to how we build our future and strengthen the fabric of our communities,” said Alicia Dubois, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “Museums have a unique responsibility to promote understanding, inspire growth and change, and give hope to future generations. The work to modernize the Royal BC Museum is a legacy project that will enrich, inspire and continue to benefit British Columbians and Indigenous Peoples for generations to come. Everyone in the province will have access to a modern museum like never before.”
The current museum can be accessed at its downtown Victoria site until September 2022 when it will close. The new museum is expected to open in 2030.