It’s nearly over a year since the Royal Alberta Museum was declared open to the public after being moved from its old base in Glenora to a magnificent facility in Edmonton. It is noteworthy to mention that the new building is almost twice as large as the old one with a lot of additions that make it even more thrilling and engaging for visitors.
The unique location of the museum at the very center of the Arts District in Downtown Edmonton makes it easily accessible from the downtown core. Close to the museum is the luxurious Union Bank Inn, located in the heart of downtown Edmonton. This premier boutique hotel is often a take-off point for many visitors to the museum.
Up till now, visitors continue to troop in from far and near to see all the many wonderful things the museum has to offer. From ancient specimens and artifacts to natural history walls to elaborate gallery spaces, the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) is without a doubt a true reflection of how far the great city has come.
The Museum Collection
There are very few museums in Canada that boost of the cultural history and heritage RAM has, not to mention the size. The museum is the largest in the western part of the country with an exhibition space that spans over 84,000 square feet. It is also one of the most sought-after destinations to locals and tourists. In fact, there were well over 40,000 people in attendance last year when the museum reopened following 3 years of restless waiting by the people of Alberta.
Apart from its huge collection of specimens and artifacts, the “new” Royal Alberta Museum offers expanded galleries and an impressive lobby that features a terrifying dinosaur and a beautiful staircase. This creates a completely different but beautiful experience for visitors’ right from the museum entrance.
Now, if you don’t mind, let’s explore the museum in more detail.
As earlier indicated, the entrance of RAM includes the lobby and a magnificent staircase which leads to the human history wall in the first floor.
Immediately after stepping into the museum, the first thing you are most likely to notice is the gigantic dinosaur, Albertosaurus, which is as old as the origin of Alberta. Hanging over the ice aged animal is a biplane which dates back to early 20th century.
Of course, there are other incredible views around; however, nothing compared to what you will find across the galleries in the human and natural history halls.
You may also want to check out the gift shop in the ground space, which also features some really cool items you can get for family or friends.
Human history hall
On the first floor of the museum, you will find the famous gigantic human history hall which houses a lot of exhibits from ancient Alberta to the middle 20th century. Here visitors get a sense of the indigenous ancestral lands, as well as what the people who lived there looked like.
Among the prominent sights in this section are two sacred stones connected to the ancestral lands. Interesting, visitors are not allowed to film or take pictures of the stones.
Other exhibits include those connected to the emergence of the Metis Nation and traditions, as well as those that focus on Cree, Blackfoot and others.
You will also find peculiar items such as those that tell stories of survival and indigenous culture. These includes a polio victim who relied on iron lung for survival, canoes for transportation, and a roasting pit which is nearly two centuries old.
There is also a gallery section that features only a pickup truck which was instrumental in the transformation of the region in post 1945.
The next place you are most likely to encounter after the Human History Hall is the Bug Gallery, which is home to thousands of local invertebrates. These include paper wasps from the north, as well as exotic chafer beetles with African origin. You will also find cockroaches and tarantulas among the exhibits.
Currently, there are millions of critters from over 200 hundred species, and the number continues to grow daily as new hatches are received.
The atmosphere inside the room is quite humid, which is reflective of the kind of species housed there.
Kids are not left out in the buildup of RAM. The facility also features a gallery for younger kids to partake in various fun activities.
These include reforming sand tables, discovering fossils from dig pits and other exciting stuffs. You will also find a theatre in this section which is meant to help with the music learning experience. Kids can make their own symphony making use of the sounds nature offers.
Natural History Hall
On the second floor of the museum, you will find the famous Natural History Hall which contains four galleries which contains various specimens and artifacts that belonged to the Ice Age. This range from a huge collection of minerals and gems to the kind of Rocky Mountains only found in Alberta.
Some of the popular ice age animals you will find here include a terrifying Columbian mammoth, the massive Jefferson ground sloth, a bighorn sheep and about seventeen life-sized dioramas.
You will also find a tank that houses the only turtle species that has ever lived on Alberta.
There is the gallery for Gems and Minerals, where you will find various luxury items like emeralds and diamonds.
If you don’t get carried away, you will also discover the Manitou Stone which is one of the most-precious possessions of Albertans as it dates back to their indigenous background. This section is kept bound from visitors. Filming and photos are not allowed.
There is also the feature Gallery and Museum Zone which are still “work in progress”.
Planning Your Visit
RAM is currently open from Tues – Sun, 10am – 5pm. So if you’re planning to visit the museum, you have to make it during this time. Most people visit during the weekends. Apart from tourists, it is common to find patrons from Union Bank Inn Hotel scouring the place for sight-seeing.
The museum is free for kids that are aged 6 and below. However, adults have to pay $19 for a one-day visit, while youths and seniors pay $10 and $14 respectively.
Tickets are also available for two-day visits as well as mammoth passes; however, they usually cost more.