Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My top five favourite Royal BC Museum activities

From the desk of Melaina Haas, Communications Coordinator at the Royal BC Museum.

5 – Having lunch in the Native Plant Garden
The Native Plant Garden is one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets – or, was… I guess I just spilled the beans. With more than 400 species of plants native to British Columbia, this spot – paired with a tuna fish sandwich – is positively paradise on a sunny day. And while you’re here, stroll up the stairs and check out the dinosaur footprints. (Look closely at the ground behind the green snack kiosk and you’ll spot a cast of original impressions left by a meat-eating carnosaur and a plant-loving hadrosaur in BC’s Peace River Canyon. Rawr!

4 – Researching family history in the BC Archives
Snuggled up to the Native Plant Garden is another one of my favourite spots, the BC Archives. As a kid, I loved reading “old stuff.” My mom had a copy of the newspaper that announced the marriage of my grandparents some 65 years ago and I must’ve read that thing at least a hundred times (the ads were my favourite). Even though my family doesn’t have roots in BC, I still find the photos and documents in the archives fascinating. If you’re lucky enough to have a history in this province, definitely pop by and see what you can find – you might be surprised! If you want more information about planning a visit, go to the BC Archives website.

3 – Chilling with Charlie in Old Town’s movie theatre
Where in Victoria can you spend an afternoon in an early 20th-century movie theatre with Charlie Chaplin? On the third floor of the museum in Old Town, of course! The details in the Majestic Theatre are astounding. Check out the golden designs on the walls and ceiling and, if you sit near the back of the room, listen for the “tick-tick-tick” of the movie projector!

2 – Testing my sea legs on the Discovery ship
Come aboard Captain George Vancouver’s ship. Built in 1789, the (real) HMS Discovery was a 340-ton, three-masted square-rigged ship with 10 four-pound cannons and 10 swivel guns. The replica portion you can enter contains the captain’s cabin and sleeping area. The combination of sound effects (creaking of the ship) and smell effects (salt and tar) does something funny to me… when I disembark the boat, I always feel like I’m about to topple over. I guess I’m no salty dog.

1 – Singing in the Natural History Gallery’s echo-chamber
My top (after-hours) Royal BC Museum activity is singing opera in the Natural History Gallery’s echo-chamber. The domed roof of the forest diorama carries (and even amplifies) the quietest murmur from one side of the room to the other. Madame Butterfly, at your service!

Do you have a favourite Royal BC Museum activity? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

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