The Royal B.C. Museum will kick off a series of province-wide consultation events with one hosted in Victoria this Saturday, June 22.
Chief Operating Officer Angela Williams says the museum’s archives and collections are currently at-risk and the facilities need improvements to mitigate vulnerability to seismic activity and many other factors.
“These buildings were built in the sixties [1967-1968]. It’s now almost 50 years later, and it’s time to do some renewal here on the site,” says Williams. “There gets to be a time when you must, even if you own an apartment building, you’d have to say ‘okay it’s time to do something with that,’ and we’re in the same position.”
To get the ball rolling, the museum needs to know what the people of B.C. would like to see in a new and improved provincial facility.
“What do our visitors find easy on the site? What do they find difficult? What kinds of things can we do to improve? What elements on the current site do they love? What do they not love so much?” asks Williams. “We really want to have a dialogue with the community about the future of this organization.”
Like universities, the museum is a research and collections institution that hosts many students each year. “We are here as a resource for the budding scientists and historians,” says Williams.
A citizen petition led to the founding of the Royal B.C. Museum in 1886 (then housed in the former Legislative buildings), and the institution plans to be around for another 126 years. “We’ll be here for a long time,” says Williams, “so what we do here on the site is going to be important to the community, which is Victoria — B.C.’s capital city. We’re the museum and archives for the entire province of British Columbia, so we want to hear from as many of the people in B.C. as we possibly can.”
Williams is looking forward to taking the consultations on tour in Vancouver next week, Prince George on July 5th, then Kamloops, Kelowna, Fort Langley and finally Richmond. On royalbcmuseum.bc.ca, there will be a link to an online survey and more information by the morning of the first event, so that people may provide input outside of the scheduled events.
The museum is not at the stage of considering construction impact, so no one knows whether any upgrades would involve closures or otherwise affect service, says Williams. “We anticipate that the actual master plan should be done sometime this fall, and we’ll know more after that.” Ideas the museum wants to explore with the community so far include a new lobby and purpose-built collections, research and archive centre.
Museum stakeholders are speaking with its federal and provincial counterparts in hopes of identifying funding sources for any upgrades. “Once we get to a point where we could build something, the whole idea is practical, realistic, achievable and very money-conscious, especially in this economic environment.”
Saturday’s consultation event will feature a small children’s table with crayons where kids are encouraged to share what they like most about the museum and to draw pictures for displays that represent what’s important to them.
Royal B.C. Museum Victoria Community Consultation
Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Clifford Carl Hall, Royal B.C. Museum (675 Belleville St.)