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Royal B.C. Museum phasing out galleries that push colonial narrative

Third floor to be fully closed by Jan. 2 in Victoria
The Royal B.C. Museum’s third floor will fully close on Jan. 2 as it works to decolonize some of its original galleries. (File photo courtesy Royal B.C. Museum)

The Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria is phasing out its third-floor galleries in an effort to decolonize its depiction of history.

Starting this month, museum staff will begin removing First Peoples, Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C., and Becoming B.C. galleries. They’ll begin with the Becoming B.C. display, which has been widely criticized for celebrating Europeans’ settlement of the province and pushing a colonial narrative.

“This is necessary to begin the long-term work of creating new narratives that include under-represented voices and reflect the lived experiences and contemporary stories of the people in B.C.,” acting CEO Daniel Muzyka said in a statement, noting the changes are long overdue.

The museum has not specified what will be replacing the old galleries or by when, but it has committed to exhibits that accurately represent the province’s history and diversity of people. New galleries will reflect the experiences and contributions of South Asian, Black, Chinese, Japanese, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities, among others, according to the museum’s modernization plan.

READ ALSO: Royal B.C. Museum releases results of racism report, apologizes for mistreatment

Creation of those exhibits will also be led by the communities depicted in them, the plan promises.

Artifacts and specimens removed from the closing galleries will be returned to collections areas for inspection and conservation treatment. The museum clarified the galleries are not being closed to repatriate artifacts to Indigenous communities, but that some of them may be at the discretion of the collections and repatriation department.

The third floor will be fully closed on Jan. 2 and the museum says it expects the new exhibits to take a number of years to complete. All other galleries and exhibitions will remain open to the public.

READ ALSO: Indigenous collections curator calls Royal B.C. Museum ‘wicked place’

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