Two areas of the Royal B.C. Museum are slated for renovation to enhance visitors’ experience by 2018.

Royal B.C. Museum to undergo largest renovation since 1997

The Royal B.C. Museum will be looking a bit different in the coming years.

The Royal B.C. Museum will be looking a bit different in the coming years.

Two areas in the museum are slated for renovation to enhance visitors’ experience by 2018.

The first area that will be redeveloped is the roughly 2,150-square-foot space by the gift and coffee shops on the main floor. The area will be transformed in a new gallery space to exhibit the museum’s Emily Carr collection, which is the largest in the world with more than 1,100 pieces of her work. None of the pieces are currently on display.

“One of the main things for us is getting the Emily Carr collection out for people to see. I think people will be really amazed at the variety of her work,” said Angela Williams, chief operating officer and deputy CEO of the museum.

“People understand that she did some monumental paintings, but I bet many of them don’t know that she was a sculptor, she did textiles and was a writer. There’s a multi-faceted person that they might not be aware of and we hope to share that better with the public.”

The redevelopment will also include the creation of a space, adjacent to the Emily Carr Gallery, called the Pacific Words Gallery. The gallery will showcase First Nations cultural treasures from the museum’s collection and will step away from the colonial story that’s been the message of the gallery since the 1970s, replacing it with a more modern, contemporary story.

The museum recently sent out a request for proposals on B.C. Bid calling on architectural firms to nominate themselves to take on the development of the two galleries. The deadline is Jan. 13.

Renovations will be continuing in other areas of the museum as well.

Architectural firm the office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers are also tasked with transforming the area on the other side of the doors facing the food truck, which is currently used as storage, into a learning space.

Once complete, the roughly 5,200-square-foot space will include learning labs for students and adults, that can be used for lectures or for classes for the roughly 35,000 children the museum sees annually.

Over the years, the museum has completed a number of minor behind-the-scenes renovations, such as upgrading the electrical infrastructure and elevators and renovating the exterior. However, this will be the largest renovation since they brought in the IMAX in 1997.

“(This) will just keep us moving forward to becoming this world-class institution,” Williams said.

The development of the learning space is expected to be complete by April, while construction of the two galleries is expected to begin in the fall of next year and complete by the end of 2018.

The renovations come with a price tag of roughly $10 million, some funding of which is still being secured. The museum also plans on launching a capital campaign in the spring to help pay for some of the upgrades.

Exhibition and permanent galleries will not be affected by the construction.