Gateway Gazette

Museum Celebrates Mammoth First Year in New Home

The Royal Alberta Museum’s first year in its new downtown Edmonton home was record-setting, as hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to discover history.

Museum celebrates mammoth first year in new home

Minister Leela Sharon Aheer and executive director Chris Robinson celebrate the Royal Alberta Museum’s one year anniversary in its new downtown location. | La ministre Leela Sharon Aheer et le directeur général du Musée royal de l’Alberta Chris Robinson célèbrent le premier anniversaire du musée dans son nouvel emplacement du centre-ville.

More than 400,000 visitors have taken in millions of years of Alberta’s natural and cultural history since the museum opened its doors on Oct. 3, 2018. Museum-goers were treated to bronze mammoth unveilings and exhibits that included the Canadian premiere of Vikings: Beyond the Legend. The RAM was also a stop for participants in The Amazing Race Canada.

“The new Royal Alberta Museum was years in the making. Thanks to everyone who has made its first year such a success. The museum is a dynamic space where Alberta’s diverse and fascinating stories are shared. Our province’s history is constantly evolving and so is this wonderful space.”Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

“One year ago, Albertans welcomed us back with open arms. We couldn’t wait to open our doors again and share this space with our community. The response has exceeded our every expectation. And we aren’t standing still – we are continuing to learn about our visitors’ wants and needs, and adapting to provide the best experience possible.”Chris Robinson, executive director, Royal Alberta Museum

A year of highlights

Community-focused partnerships

RAM’s partnership with the Mustard Seed’s Seedworks program has provided meaningful work for 14 community members who otherwise faced barriers to employment. In the past year, Seedworks employees have worked nearly 5,700 hours, welcoming visitors at the building’s front doors, providing front-line customer service, answering questions and directing patrons to amenities within the facility.

Making an accessible museum

The lights, crowds, and sounds of museums can be barriers to visitors with sensory processing differences. There are a number of resources to make the museum visit more comfortable for these visitors. Sensory Sundays, which happen before the museum opens to the public, are an opportunity to experience the museum with adjusted gallery settings such as soft lighting and reduced noise, along with various activities. There is also a Sensory Room, a calm space for individuals looking for a place to recharge or reflect. The Sensory Room is in the piloting phase until Oct. 27, 2019.

Sharing more of Alberta’s collections

In addition to its main permanent history halls, RAM presented three exhibits in changing galleries. These galleries shared the histories of Edmonton’s own Great Western Garment (GWG) company, an ode to the objects that preserve memories of the First World War, and a look at the lives of early black settlers in Alberta. In the next year, RAM will open two additional rotating galleries.

Bringing the world to Alberta

Vikings: Beyond the Legend landed in Edmonton – the only Canadian stop for this travelling exhibition from the National Museum of Denmark. With more than 650 objects and the 1,000-year-old planks of the longest Viking warship ever discovered, this is the largest touring exhibition of Viking artifacts in the world. The Vikings are leaving Oct. 20, 2019.

Offering a versatile event space

The museum also offers a 250-seat theatre, conference rooms and lobby spaces for a variety of event rentals. The Bank of Canada’s launch of the new $10 bill, featuring Viola Desmond, and a dance challenge in CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada were among 125 events hosted in the past year.

Contributing to Edmonton’s and Alberta’s profiles

RAM received mentions in top Canadian travel destination lists and museum openings to watch for, as well as accolades for its design and architecture.

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