New Royal Alberta Museum opens in downtown Edmonton
The largest museum in western Canada opened in Edmonton’s downtown core Wednesday morning.
The 419,000 square foot space is double the size of its predecessor, and houses most of the 2.4 million objects in its collection – more than 5,300 of those are on display for the first visitors.
The objects and displays are divided into two main halls: the Natural History Hall and the Human History Hall.
Upstairs, the Natural History Hall features displays mapping the province’s history, from the Ice Ageto the formation of Alberta’s diverse landscape and the wild creatures that roam the mountains, hills and plains in the present day, accompanied by a variety of gemstones from around the world.
Visitors to the old museum will recall a number of dioramas once featured in the Glenora building, eight of those pieces are on display again in the new museum after some restoration work, alongside nine new displays.
Some more elements from the old museum were also integrated into the new one, although the big dinosaurs are not. One of the larger models was moved to a new home in the Jurassic Forest north of Edmonton.
Also upstairs, stones sacred to Indigenous people are on display. One, the Manitou Asiniy stone, is in its own display – visitors can see the stone free of charge. Sacred stones are also on display at the entrance to the Natural History Hall. A note: visitors seeing either of these displays are not allowed to take photos or video of the stones.
Downstairs, the Human History Hall focuses on the people of Alberta over time, from the Indigenous people, with displays showing objects related to the variety of Indigenous cultures in Alberta, to the first settlers, the introduction and development of technology for communication and medicine.
An iron lung is on display, alongside the dolls given to a patient named Dorothy Heppler who was paralyzed by polio. The 11-year-old had to use an iron lung for two months. She was given a doll each time she stayed in the iron lung a little bit longer.
Nearby, the restored, old Sunwapta totem pole is on display, alongside an old broadcast camera from CFRN.
Throughout the halls, signs describing the objects are in English and French, some have also been translated to a variety of Indigenous languages.
Also downstairs is a space just for children 8 and under, where kids can learn through play in an archeological dig pit, and learn about weather using ‘the big machine’.
Next door, the bug room features 11 media displays and a wide variety of tiny creatures where visitors can learn about “the little things that run the world.”
Past the main lobby is the Museum Zone, where visitors can look in on labs where museum staff doing conservation work on the displays, and researching objects.
Plus, the museum features a world-class, 12,000 square foot feature gallery where an unnamed exhibit is expected to open in the spring of 2019.