Arts and Culture
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is a public art museum dedicated to the celebration of art. It opened in 1951, exhibiting art in the historic 1889 mansion that is adjacent to its seven modern galleries. With almost 17,000 works of art, the Art Gallery has the largest public collection in British Columbia, and is a vibrant and active part of Victoria’s artist community.
The Chinatown in Victoria is the oldest in Canada, beginning with the mass influx of miners from California in 1858. Today, it remains an active place for Chinese-Canadians, Victoria residents and visitors. Victoria’s Chinatown is surrounded by cultural and entertainment venues as well as being a venue itself. It is located minutes away from the Bay Centre, The Fairmont Empress Hotel and Market Square.
IMAX National Geographic Theatre
Victoria IMAX is the ultimate film experience with the largest IMAX screen in British Columbia measuring 18.59m x 25.9m (61’H x 85’W). The IMAX screen combined with crystal clear images and wraparound digital surround sound, offers an incredible immersive cinematic experience. More than five million people locally and almost a billion people around the world have been spellbound by the force and beauty of the IMAX film experience. Technically advanced and visually stunning, it is the most powerful and immersive movie experience in the world.
Royal British Columbia Museum
The Royal BC Museum Corporation is one of Canada’s greatest cultural treasures. The museum was founded in 1886, and the archives in 1894. In 2003 these two organizations joined to become British Columbia’s provincial museum and archives, collecting artifacts, documents and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history, safeguarding them for the future, and sharing them with the world.
The museum receives millions of visitors each year and is one of the top museums in North America. Each exhibit and gallery tells important stories about British Columbia, and provides an engaging and thought-provoking window on the province’s past, present and future.
Thunderbird Park is located next to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. The park is home to many totem poles of the Gitxsan, Haida, and Kwakwaka’wakw. The park takes its name from the mythological Thunderbird of Indigenous North American cultures which is depicted on many totem poles.
Also in the park are a carving studio, St Anne’s Schoolhouse (built 1844), Helmcken House (built in 1852 by Dr John Helmcken), and the Mungo Martin House (Wawadit’la), a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw “big house” built in 1953 by Kwakwaka’wakw Chief Mungo Martin. The park is part of the Royal BC Museum Cultural Precinct, an area around the museum that contains a number of historical sites and monuments.
Totem poles were first erected on site in 1940 as part of a conservation effort to preserve the region’s rapidly deteriorating Aboriginal art. The site was opened as Thunderbird Park in 1941. By 1951, many of the poles had greatly decayed, and in 1952 the Royal BC Museum began a restoration program with Chief Martin as its head carver. Martin died in 1962 and was succeeded by renowned carver Henry Hunt. Other artists who have worked as part of the program include Henry Hunt’s sons Richard Hunt and Tony Hunt, Tim Paul, Lawrence Bell, David Gladstone, David Martin, and Bill Reid. All of the original poles were replaced with new versions by 1992, and some of the original totem poles are now preserved within the museum.