Royal BC Museum

Royal British Columbia Museum

  • Royal British Columbia Museum Expansion and Renovations
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • 2012 - Present

Project

The Royal BC Museum is the Provincial history and natural history museum as well as the Provincial archive.  The merger of these institutions provides an unusual opportunity to reconsider how to remove boundaries between these collections and create a unified experience to make the museum an active, relevant participant in the cultural and economic life of British Columbia.

In Predesign, what emerged is the misalignment of the museum’s new mission and existing exhibits – the literal separation (by floor) of the Province’s natural history and increasingly diverse human cultures.  WCA worked with a local design firm to understand the building’s capacity to support this new vision and the functional needs into the future.

In Design, the vision of leadership continues to drive the organization of the phased implementation of the facility which will require substantial resources to achieve the potential imbedded in their amazing collections and talented staff.

Process

In Predesign, WCA met met with numerous stakeholder operating and collecting groups to identify programmatic requirements and quantify space needed to make them operationally successful.  WCA mapped functions across the museum and developed diagrams that highlighted challenges to meet the outcome goals. These informed a phased implementation strategy to bring the entire building into a new more clearly integrated message.

In Design of Phase One, WCA developed program options for new experiences to lay over the traditional exhibits that will be used as a basis for the exhibit work. By moving several functions, WCA created greater clarity in the visitor experience with more clear definition of the functional needs of each space.  WCA continues to work with staff and the international and local design teams with a focus on the programmatic goals and their requirements.

Outcomes

During Predesign, with the first re-examination of all three ‘parts’ of the whole institution, new ideas emerged that cultural and natural history are part of a single story lending clarity to how the building must be organized and resources applied. By focusing on making the museum tell the complete cultural and natural history story, learning, access and preservation took on increasingly important roles to define how the museum staff, building and resources should be focused.

In Design, matching specific program concepts with a fiscally sustainable model has been crucial to making each investment have maximum impact.  Tuning each design opportunity into more clear visitor encounters with the cultural and ecological diversity of the Province has the added benefit of  aligning the museum with the economic drivers and political realities making it a more important and engaged resource.