Angela Williams

Royal B.C. Museum celebrates 130 years

The first time Angela Williams visited the Royal B.C. Museum she was escorted out by security guards.

The first time Angela Williams visited the Royal B.C. Museum she was escorted out by security guards.

Originally immigrating from Germany, first to Edmonton and then to Victoria, Williams visited the museum on a class field trip and was instantly fascinated by the entrance of the third floor which contained an interactive cosmos show, where kids could play.

Then she travelled through the histories gallery, which contained a fishing diorama with dead salmon on a slab. The blood from the fish looked so real that Williams felt compelled to reach out and touch it.

“I was a 12-year-old kid and it looked so real. They’re sources of wonder for people who’ve only seen them the first time and that was me as a kid. You fall in love with the place through the experiences that it gave you,” she said.

As she did, Williams set off the alarms and was escorted out of the museum by security.

Since that field trip, things have come full circle for Williams, who has worked at the museum for the last 13 years and is now the chief operating office and deputy CEO.

This year, the museum is celebrating its 130th anniversary.

The Royal B.C. Museum was originally created in 1886 when citizens were concerned about the rate of which First Nations artifacts were being taken away from the province. Hundreds of people signed a petition, which was sent to the government at the time, detailing the need for a museum and shortly after, it was created.

Since then, the museum has become the provincial repository for the province’s human and natural history, housing more than seven million objects — less than one tenth of which is on display — including Metis objects, a piece of the wall from a former detention centre in Victoria in the 1800s and genealogical records.

“We’re not your grandma’s museum anymore. We’re not dusty and old and mouldy. We’re interesting, we’re vibrant, we’re alive. We have programs for just about everything,” Williams said, adding there are roughly 120 staff and 600 volunteers.

“There’s so much to learn. I’ve worked here 13 years and I always see something new.”

Over the years, the museum has changed its programming to become more relevant and interactive for younger generations. It has put thousands of documents material online through its learning portal and hosts field trips for thousands of school-age to university students.

It has become an internationally known institution, bringing baby Lyuba, a rare woolly mammoth from Russia earlier this year, as well as collections from Bogota, Columbia to Victoria last year.

The museum’s reputation as a tourism destination is growing as well. Last year, the museum was named the best museum in Canada by TripAdvisor for the second consecutive year.

In celebration of its anniversary, the museum put five Emily Carr paintings on display for the public to see. In the future, Williams hopes to establish an Emily Carr exhibit to show off the more than 1,100 artifacts they have related to the Canadian icon.

“We think the next 130 years are going to be quite bright as the museum starts to grow and be more relevant because we’re not just Victoria’s museum, we’re the museum for the province,” Williams said. “The museum has already been here for 130 years and it’ll be here for 130 more.”

The museum’s current exhibit Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age is on until Dec. 31. For more information about the museum visit royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read