Explore: Royal BC Museum

On the weekend, we took the girls down to the Royal BC Museum for an afternoon.  My husband and I love museums, but we only visit it once in a while because the girls have a limited attention span for browsing exhibits.  Sunshine is actually starting to show more interest in what we are looking at, and asks me to explain things (which sometimes challenges me!).

Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC

This time around, we went straight up to the third floor to check out the maps collection (which we missed on our last visit there).  Thirty maps from the early 1400s to 1700 were on display, showing what people of that day thought the world looked like.

Most of the maps hung at eye-level for adults, so it was harder for the girls to see them.  I lifted them up to look at a few maps; Lily had fun searching for sea monsters and mermaids and Sunshine wanted me to explain what was on the maps.  They are fascinated with modern maps when we are driving or planning a hike, so I thought they’d be more interested in those maps, but they were soon ready for the next part of the museum.

One of the fun things about museums is “getting lost” there.  This time, we somehow moved from the maps exhibit into a room we hadn’t been in before, with lots of memorabilia from the last century—dresses showing the fashions after the war, a collection of cameras, old tools, early radios, etc.  This kept the girls interested for a while, as we talked about what they saw and tried to explain that Great-Grandma might have used some of these things when she was a little girl because they were very old.

Anything electronic interests the girls, so they wanted to take turns clicking through some old newspapers at a computer terminal.  After that, it was time to move quickly into the next exhibit… the Modern History Gallery.

I think this is my new favourite part of the museum.  It was like a complete village inside the museum, with so many places to wander—a virtual maze.  We watched a silent Charlie Chaplin film (about the Chilkoot Pass and starving in a blizzard, with lots of questions from Sunshine about what was going on) in a small, retro movie theatre.

We walked through a hotel and peered in the windows of various shops—a drugstore, dressmaker, saloon, blacksmith, etc—before finding ourselves in a salmon cannery, where the girls watched a very long movie about the early salmon industry in BC.

Then we saw a coal mine, complete with a working water wheel.  The girls favourite part was a model of Captain Vancouver’s ship, which they ran through twice and claimed bunks on.

We have annual passes to the IMAX theatre at the museum, so often we end a visit there with a movie.  If the girls aren’t quite as interested in an exhibit as my husband or I, then we can bribe them into behaving (sometimes) by promising the movie.  We also get a discount on museum admission because of our passes, and the girls get free museum admission (until Sunshine turns 6).

The girls also enjoy visiting the dioramas on the second floor, where there are more interactive features for them—”listening” stations that tell them about the woolly mammoth, fossils they can touch or examine under a microscope, computers with games about different types of whales, etc.  The museum also offers a Family Activity Guide to help children get more involved in the exhibits.  It’s a great way to spend a rainy day here in Victoria.

Do your children enjoy visiting museums?

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