Saturday, March 27, 2010

Royal British Columbia Museum

The Royal BC museum is awesome! Out front, there's a large group of West Coast First Nations totem poles.  I think I'll have to do a separate post on the totem poles alone, to do justice to the sheer number of photos I took.  I have a nice little book that will help me explain them too...that will help.'s the totem pole that's right out the front door. 
All the different animals have different meanings and signifigances in the stories of the local First Nations People.  As well as the mythical creatures and the occasional person on the poles, you get the local animals too, like bears and the bear mother, salmon, ravens, orca, beavers, frogs, goats and the wolf.  The sun and moon also make an appearance occasionally.

So, once in the museum, we went to see a woolly mammoth, complete with a real ice wall. 

Then it was off to the temperate rain forest, where we saw elk and dear and bears and I think it was a cougar.  This display was really cool, as when you stood in the middle, it echoed and when you stomped, the ground made squelching sounds, just like a real rainforest! 

The cougar?  Or something feline anyway...

After the rainforest, we headed to the beach. 

And we found some harbour seals...

A sealion bull...

And then onto the wetlands to see some local birds. 

Then we went under the water! They have this whole room set up that feels like you're under the sea, complete with windows out to the "ocean" and periscopes (in which you actually watched little documentaries about the local underwater life).  There was also a ships wheel, and one of those lever things that set the speed of a ship...a certain little dinosaur had some fun with those.

Then into the First Nations exhibit.  This area was fascinating!  The detail that goes into the art is wonderful, and the stories are really interesting.  My favourite part here was an area where they had masks of all the different characters that pop up in the local mythology, and there was a recording that played while we watched that highlighted each mask and explained its role and significance.  My favourite was the character called "Crazy like an Otter".

Then we went back in time to downtown Victoria.

And then off to see the old salmon canneries

According the newsreel movie from the 1940s, the fish were first gutted by the highly technological "iron chink" ( read that right...they were well proud of their iron chink too).  Then the cans would be packed and checked by women who were "shining with cleaniness", and then taked off to the "vacu-um machine" (say it pronouncing both "u"s, it's fun) by men who were most certainly not shining with cleanliness. 

Next came the boat ride.  I'd heard about this one already from my sister, and was keen to check it out for myself.  So you get to the room, and you look at the boat.  It's very much stationary.  You get on the boat, and suddenly, you feel like you're moving, and the boat does appear to be swaying just like it would be on the water!  And when you get off, you feel a bit sea leggy!  It's crazy, and we couldn't work out for the life of us just how they pull it off.  It's a really neat little trick.

After all that we felt a bit hungry, so we headed off to the old time kitchen.  These old rooms were beautifully set up, and here you could actually smell the fresh baked fruit pie, which really did make us hungry. 

This room was decorated with the most beautiful oriental furnishings.  The most wonderful thing about all these rooms was that they really did just look like the owners had just stepped out for a moment.

And finally it was off to the mountains to see the pioneers' huts, either for lumberjacks or miners.

The museum was really a wonderful place to visit.  In every room you'd find something new to ooh and aah at, whether it was the main display, or the tiny little quirks they put into them, like moving ships and fresh pie smells.  Definitely a wonderful way to spend a morning in Victoria!

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