Wildlife photography, the ancient world and objects culturally significant to Canada are in the lineup this year at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum, where organizers say visitors will be able to marvel at photos and dive into history from here and beyond.
The museum (RBCM) announced its 2024 exhibits on Friday, Jan. 28, saying this year’s “diverse slate” kicks off with Wildlife Photographer of the Year opening on March 1, followed by Stonehenge on May 10 and Canadian Modern on June 28.
In a news release, Tracey Drake, the RBCM’s acting CEO, sums it up as “an exciting and thought-provoking lineup of exhibitions” that come amid public engagement.
“There is so much important work happening at the museum,” said Drake, “and while we continue to engage with the people of British Columbia about the future of their provincial museum and archives, we are also delivering dynamic and inspiring exhibitions from around the world that offer something for British Columbians and tourists to enjoy.”
The photography exhibit, which the RBCM calls “a forever favourite,” gives visitors a look “at fascinating animal behaviour, spectacular species…the breathtaking diversity of the natural world,” and, ultimately, “the world’s best nature photography.”
It says the exhibit uses the “power of photography” to raise awareness of animal advocacy and environmental conservation and will run alongside a companion film, Blue Whales: Return of the Giants, at IMAX Victoria, which is in the museum.
B.C.’s tourism minister, Lana Popham, is looking forward to what’s to come, saying in the release that “this year is shaping up to be an exciting one” at the museum.
“These upcoming feature exhibitions add to the museum’s already superb collection, making the RBCM an amazing place to explore…” added Popham.
The RBCM says the Stonehenge exhibit, which includes more than 400 ancient artifacts and archaeological insight, will allow visitors to “discover one of the most mysterious and unique stone monuments in the world and what it meant to the people who built it.”
Stonehenge, a prehistoric megalithic structure in Wiltshire, England, is a World Heritage Site.
Canadian Modern, meanwhile, will highlight “the experimentation, innovation and ingenuity behind 100 culturally significant objects created in Canada,” according to the museum.
This includes “some homegrown items from the Collections of BC,” making the exhibit “a testament to the ground-breaking creativity of the country’s best designers.”
Rebuild scrapped, ‘Old Town’ reopens, CEO resigns
The upcoming exhibits follow controversy at the museum.
In late 2021, the RBCM dismantled its long-standing “Old Town” exhibit, which portrays early European settler history, in an effort to “decolonize” the museum. Then, the province announced its $789-million plan to tear down and replace the museum, but it was met with public scrutiny and outcry. The province later abandoned the plan, and the “Old Town” exhibit reopened in June 2023 with changes to make it more inclusive.
Also last June, the RBCM’s former CEO Alicia Dubois resigned, leading the way for Drake to take the role of Acting CEO in October. At the time, she acknowledged the recent setbacks but said the future looked bright thanks to a full slate of exhibits.
Earlier this month, the RBCM launched another public survey asking British Columbians to weigh in on what they want the museum’s future to look like.