Human and Natural History Galleries, Royal Alberta Museum
The Royal Alberta Museum is the crown of Alberta arts institutions and the largest museum in Western Canada. It is a multidisciplinary place where art, design, community, nature, and language come together to tell the story of Alberta—the experience of its people over time—and to inspire Albertans to explore and understand the world around them.
RAA was asked to conceive and develop exhibition designs for the Human History and Natural History wings, First Nations galleries, and public spaces. RAA also managed the executive production of media and completed graphic production for all galleries.
Within its new 419,000-square-foot facility, the challenge was to convey a truly epic story: 13,000 years of human history set within millennia of natural history. More than 5,300 objects, coupled with rich interpretation, give life to this account. Placed within an inspiring signature interior architecture, the interpretive task meant telling true stories respectfully and inclusively, integrating indigenous and settler history to present the past from new perspectives.
A circular gallery of First Nations cultural objects is topped by a band of looped video showing off modern indigenous life through the seasons. This place is fittingly called Why We Are Strong, with chanting and drumming filling the hall.
The Museum’s impact has been immediate: more than 400,000 visitors flooded the Museum in the year after reopening. It has engendered a new spirit of public excitement and attachment to the institution, fulfilling its institutional vision: “to foster wonder, inquiry, and new understandings about Alberta and its place in the world.”
Size 50,000 square feet
Photography ©Andrew Lee