It was a day of “wows!” “a-has!” and plenty of “oohs” and “ahhhs” as the new Royal Alberta Museum opened to the public for the first time on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The grand opening filled visitors, media, volunteers and staff with mammoth-sized moments and timeless memories.
Visitors lined up at western Canada’s largest museum to be among the first to see the new and expanded downtown Edmonton space with its many exciting new exhibits and galleries.
“My son’s been asking, ‘Is it open? Is it open?’” said the father of young Liam. “We’ve been excited to come here ever since they first announced the new site.”
Liam, his sister Hanna and his dad were among the first into the new building.
“I’m most excited about everything,” Liam enthuses, adding, “and especially anything that involves living creatures.”
Rhoda and her daughter Judith were also among the first to take in Alberta’s new museum. “We spent a lot of time at the museum when the kids were small, and we want to see what’s changed,” says Rhoda. “We’re also looking forward to seeing all the diversity in our history.”
“We enjoy the museum very much,” agrees Judith, “and hopefully the new generation will enjoy it as well.”
Tracy Hyatt and Chris Buyze knew just where they wanted to go when they entered the museum: they headed straight for the Human History Gallery.
“I like learning history,” says Tracy, who was excited to see what new display was around every corner. “I’m very much interested in Alberta’s history. Other than the museum there isn’t one single location where you can go to be told that story. I’ve learned so much already in the short time I’ve been here.”
“The building in general is also interesting,” notes Chris. “It’s really exciting for downtown.”
Tracy adds, “I got a membership to the museum because I can’t absorb it all at once. I have to learn in chunks.”
Heyla and daughter Riley shouted, “We love it!” as Riley played with the interactive activities in the Children’s Gallery. Riley found endless amusement with the costumes and props all set up for people just her size in the pint-sized theatre. “We’ve never seen a theatrical children’s area in a museum before and she’s got a theatrical streak,” says mom, as Riley tried on scarves and ribbons, and played with drums and costumes.
“My favourite thing about the new museum is just knowing that they cater to kids,” says Heyla. “You’re going to want to come and spend all day here. If you’re from out of town, put it on your to-do list to come for a weekend. I’ve been really impressed.”
Shirley and her daughter Pam toured the museum and found that the Wild Alberta Gallery was one of their favourites. “I was an interior designer,” says Shirley, who is approaching her 90th birthday. “It’s been wonderful to see the fantastic design of the building and the displays.”
“I liked to see all of the Indigenous history and videos,” Pam adds.
Visitors of all ages and sizes staked out their favourite areas to visit and explore in the new building, from the Bug Gallery to the Natural History Gallery, from the Amiskwaciy Theatre to the courtyards and more. The café and gift shop were also popular, and mammoths, both large and small in size, were a favourite of all.
Attempting to sum up the entire Royal Alberta Museum grand opening experience, little Ariana puts it this way:
“I like coming here with my friends and family.”
We hope you visit the new facility soon!