Royal B.C. Museum getting a new building in Colwood for collections, archives and research

The Royal B.C. Museum will be getting a new building in Colwood to house its collections, archives and research labs.

The 14,000-square-metre, state-of-the-art building planned for Royal Bay is part of a modernization effort to protect collections and archives and make them more accessible to the public.

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Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare said she was shocked when she toured the museum to find the vast collections stored in the basement, with a pump working 24 hours a day to keep the area dry.

“The plight of these priceless paintings represents the problems facing the museum and its archives,” Beare said.

The downtown Victoria museum was built in 1967 for an audience of 100,000 people, she said, and more than 50 years later, the museum no longer has the capacity to safely store the seven million objects in its collections or the B.C. archives.

The museum now sees nearly 900,000 yearly visitors and the museum’s collections have outgrown its downtown location, she said.

“This new building will ensure that these irreplaceable treasures are properly stored and safeguarded to international standards,” Beare said.

The public museum will remain in the downtown location. The new energy-efficient building in Royal Bay, expected to be complete by 2024, will include research facilities and improved public access to the museum’s collections that are not on display.

Museum board chairman Daniel Muzyka said the plan for the new building, with better access to archives and collections, recognizes growing public interest in going behind the scenes and engaging in self-driven research, such as genealogy and citizen science.

“Over the next 50 years, we envision the museum playing a central role in civic society as a cultural hub bringing past, present, future together, connecting people across the province and introducing the public to historians, scientists and experts in their field,” Muzyka said.

Much of that work will take place on the Royal Bay site, he said.

The province purchased the Royal Bay land for $14 million.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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