BC reinstates ‘Old Town’ at Royal BC Museum with new approach

The province of British Columbia has announced that the popular Old Town gallery will return to the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) this summer with a new approach. The exhibit showcasing the province’s early European settlement history has been identified as problematic, and the museum leadership has decided to permanently close and remove it as part of their “decolonization” process, which began in late 2021. Most of the exhibits will return, such as the garage, train station, hotel, saloon, parlour, kitchen, print shop and Chinatown preserved as they were. Other spaces that have been emptied will be re-imagined with a new perspective.

The Majestic Theatre will not feature its Hollywood silent film rotation and, instead, will present historical footage showcasing the diversity of BC’s voices and stories. New contextual panels will be seen throughout the gallery that provide background and historical reference. These panels will “encourage critical thinking and ignite imagination,” the province said.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors back into Old Town with this new approach,” said Alicia Dubois, CEO, Royal BC Museum. “We’re committed to increasing inclusivity and accessibility to the museum through extensive engagement and co-creation of exhibits with communities, and inviting people back into this space allows further opportunities to do that.”

The reopening of Old Town is the first phase of a multi-year project to transform RBCM. Each phase will be informed by public engagement that invites people and communities to consider how spaces like Old Town and the First Peoples’ Gallery can be more relevant, inclusive and engaging.

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