Arguably the finest museum in British Columbia and carrier of a ‘royal’ prefix since 1987, Victoria’s flagship sight mixes the cream of BC’s provincial exhibits with a revolving lineup of world-class temporary exhibitions. Adding value is an IMAX Theatre and a small park replete with indigenous and early pioneer history. Permanent fixtures inside the museum are split into natural history (2nd floor) and human history (3rd floor). Both focus almost exclusively on BC.
The natural history section beautifully recreates some of BC’s classic ecosystems, peppered with a selection of taxidermied animals. Highlights include hyper-realistic sea lions and a life-size woolly mammoth with meter-long fur.
The human history section illuminates BC’s First Nations with a recreated Kwakwaka'wakw clanhouse and a sonic exhibit that greets you in 34 different indigenous languages. Further on, you’ll encounter a diorama of an early-20th-century BC street complete with a cinema showing Charlie Chaplin movies.
In adjacent Thunderbird Park, behind a line of weathered totem poles, lie two of the province’s oldest buildings. The small log cabin St Ann’s Schoolhouse dates from 1844 when it served as a fur trading post. Next door, the Helmcken House (1852) is the former home of fur-trade-era doctor, John Helmcken.