Canada 150: Empty Royal BC Museum Event

Part of the Community Series

Road to 2017

In 2017 Canada will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. The Fathers of Confederation vision for a united Canada was realized 150 years ago. On July 1st 1867 a union was created between the province of Canada and the Maritime Provinces with the creation of The British North America Act at the London Conference. The Dominion of Canada was born. The approach of Canada 150 in 2017 gives an opportunity to reflect and look towards to the future. My family travelled from Victoria B.C. to Galiano Island last weekend. My computer bounced in my lap as our ride docked at Pender Island, the first stop on our island BC ferries milk run. At that moment an eagle flew overhead, a reminder for me to look up and take in the stunning scenery of our province. Moments like these catch me. It’s as if gentle hands have been placed on my shoulders as my mother used to do when she wanted my attention. Canada is asking for our attention.  

Empty Royal BC Museum

Today I was given the opportunity to take part in a Road to 2017 Empty Instagram exclusive event celebrating Canada and our Canadian Cultural institutions. Emptied museums from across Canada have opened their doors and invited members of the public in to explore their galleries and behind the scene areas. This event is a part of the empty movement that started in 2013 in New York when American Instagrammer Dave Krugman was given access to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after hours. Since 2013 the movement has spread worldwide and has now come to Canada with a series of empty events in the lead up to Canada 150 in 2017. The Royal BC Museum (RBCM) is my local museum in Victoria B.C. They offered me an invitation to join, which I gratefully accepted. A chance to give my local BC cultural institution full attention.

  7:30 am shots while waiting for event. I love how quiet it is at this time of day

7:30 am shots while waiting for event. I love how quiet it is at this time of day

Childhood memories flood back of peeking over the handrails awe struck by the woolly mammoth, exploring the dark and somewhat scary bottom of the ocean in the submarine exhibit, waiting for the train in old town and log rolling on the grass in the grounds outside. As we enter the museum I immediately feel at home. As a child I was curious, eagerly edging towards the displays rope and (attempting) to climb over to get a closer look to the somewhat dismay of my parents. My twin brother and I made museum trips quite challenging for my parents. Once we were a bit older and friends were invited things escalated. Let’s just say that there was a significant incident involving one frightened child dangling from the escalator, a rescue attempt gone awry. Some highlights of today’s museum exploration are below. 

  In the RBCM Lobby

In the RBCM Lobby

The Natural History Galleries

The Natural History Galleries have always been a favourite of mine in the Royal BC Museum. The galleries are divided into six: The Coastal Forest, Seashore, Ocean station, Ice Age, Fraser River Delta and Climate Rules! As you enter you are immediately swept up in the calm natural beauty of British Columbia. Birds call and wildlife sounds can be heard in the distance. Education about threatened ecosystems are woven among the exhibits. I love our rugged province. 

  Mammoth reflection in display glass in Ice Age Exhibit

Mammoth reflection in display glass in Ice Age Exhibit

The other day my Grandpa was telling us about how growing up during the great depression they used surrounding land resources. In Saskatchewan manure from the farm was packed around the outside of their house in the winter as insulation. In the spring the same manure was transferred from the house to the garden to be used as fertilizer. Grandpa says “when it starts to smell, you know it’s ready.” He detailed being tasked with gathering kelp and cutting it into tiny pieces to be used in the garden once they moved to BC. As we approach Canada 150 I think it’s important to pay attention to the wisdom gained in our past as we look towards a sustainable future. I’m not saying I’m going to start lathering the outside of my house with manure tomorrow, although my dog would be thrilled. My grandpa’s experience reflects the important idea of using our valuable resources and land around us in an effective and sustainable way.

Our Living Languages

This had impact. As a former educator who did a short teaching practicum up in Haida Gwaii, I am drawn to this exhibit. The diversity of 34 First Nations languages in British Columbia is at the forefront in this interactive cultural exhibit. The First People’s Cultural Council partnered with the Royal BC Museum to create Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in British Columbia. The exhibit celebrates communities as well as shines a light on the complexity and important story of language revitalization.

First People's Galleries


  Shot from under the stairs

Shot from under the stairs

Behind the Scenes

One of my favourite parts about today was going behind the scenes. The Royal BC Museum's collection is approximately 7 million and the majority of specimens and cultural objects are hidden from view. Thank you to the RBCM staff who were informative and happily answered any of our questions.

  Squid demonstration threw me back to biological sciences classes in University- loved it.

Squid demonstration threw me back to biological sciences classes in University- loved it.

  Extinct Dawson's Caribou

Extinct Dawson's Caribou

 

John Lennon's Rolls Royce

I was snapping a few last minute pics of Lennon's Rolls Royce when people started filing in for the start of the regular hours at the museum. I was lucky to catch people's reflections in the Rolls Royce window as people came and went from the museum.

  A photographer leaving the empty RBCM event

A photographer leaving the empty RBCM event


  Welcome

Welcome

Outside Grounds

Some shots as I was leaving the museum of the beautiful surrounding grounds.

Gratitude

Today was a reflective creative day. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of celebrating Canada’s culture. It was wonderful to catch a glimpse of the beauty and stillness of my local museum after hours through my lens. Thank you to the Royal BC Museum for including me in this event, I loved it.