Museum of Vancouver Overview
Located in Vanier Park and sharing building space with the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, the Museum of Vancouver (formerly the Vancouver Museum) is home to permanent displays, exhibitions and educational programs about the natural, cultural and human history of the Vancouver region, from First Nations to industrialization to today.
The Museum of Vancouver is Canada's largest civic museum. Its permanent exhibits include a walk through Vancouver's past, with tableaux and artifacts tracing the city's history through each era of the late-19th and 20th centuries.
Recently, the museum has been working to revitalize its image and relevancy. In 2008, the well-reviewed and well-received Movers & Shapers exhibit of Vancouver designers and artists demonstrated this new direction, as did the name change (from Vancouver Museum) in 2009. These are hallmarks of a new era at this Vancouver landmark.
Getting to the Museum of Vancouver
The Museum of Vancouver is located at 1100 Chestnut Street. For drivers, there is a free parking lot in front. But if you live near False Creek--or have visitors with you--leave the car at home and take a False Creek Ferry; it's more scenic and a lot more fun.
Museum of Vancouver History
Today's Museum of Vancouver evolved from the city's first museum exhibition in 1894. That small, first collection of "paintings and curios" grew into the City Museum, initially located in the Carnegie Library, at Main and Hastings, in 1905.
In 1968, the museum moved to its current location in Vanier Park. The building was supposed to hold only the museum, but a generous gift from H.R. MacMillan allowed architect Gerald Hamilton to create a planetarium in the domed top (leading to the eventual creation of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre).
The new Museum of Vancouver--with it's domed top and gorgeous location, overlooking False Creek and downtown Vancouver--is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city.
Making the Most of Your Visit
Although the Museum of Vancouver building looks imposing, the museum itself is rather small. Two hours would suffice if this is your only destination.
To make the most of the trip, make time for the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (in the same building) and for a walk around beautiful Vanier Park. Another option is the ExplorePass--a combination ticket that allows you to visit the museum, space centre and the neighbouring Vancouver Maritime Museum for a discounted price.
The best time to see the Museum of Vancouver is when it offers temporary shows, but the permanent exhibits on Vancouver history are worth at least one trip. It's fascinating to see the artifacts and displays on different eras of Vancouver history, particularly the glimpses of the rich society-types of Shaughnessy, the hippie-culture of Kitsilano in the 60's, and the immigrant experience of Japanese- and Chinese-Canadians.
For kids, the real fun is seeing antiques they probably have never seen in person: early 1900's telephone switchboards, 1920's home appliances, and 1960's clothes they can try on.
Current Exhibitions & Open Hours: Museum of Vancouver