This Week in History: how the Royal BC Museum’s Exhibit Fabrication Specialists maintain the water features


The Royal B.C. Museum strives to create fascinating exhibits that provide a deep, engaging experience for every visitor.

Some of those exhibits include water features, such as a tide pool and a water wheel.

One of the many tasks of the museum’s exhibit fabrication specialists is to ensure the water wheel — and other water features in various galleries — run smoothly.

Colin Longpre is one of those specialists.

“A lot of people might think that the water wheel is run on a motor, but it’s actually run on water and gravity,” says Longpre.

“There’s actually a water reservoir underneath it, and a small pump pumps water up to the top, and it spins the water wheel around and around.”

Longpre explains that the water wheel was recently rebuilt, and with the rebuild, came improvements.

“We used to get dirty water from the sand and the gravel that was in there.  So to help with that, we built a settling tank system.”

The tide pool in the seashore diorama was also recently rebuilt.

“We actually cut the tidepool out,” says Joel Blaicher, another exhibit fabrication specialist.

“We emptied it of all of its critters, put them safely in the back holding tanks, and then removed the tidepool to do maintenance.”

Plumbing was updated to improve the quality of the water.

“This is ocean water that’s being pumped through a series of filters, and a chiller to maintain the temperature,” says Blaicher.

“The ocean does a really good job of providing perfect salinity, and PH, and food systems for all of these animals, so we have to try really hard to replicate that.”

A number of volunteers have been trained to help maintain the water, and feed the creatures.

“There’s 15 to 20 different species in here, all kind of living together in a small area,” says Blaicher, “which isn’t uncommon in a tide pool you’d find along the coast.”

The exhibit fabrication specialists are also developing a new wave making mechanism.

All to ensure visitors have the most realistic experience possible, as they wander through the Royal B.C. Museum.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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