Victoria Museums and Gallery Scene

Victoria is a city that’s very proud of its history — and for good reason. Our rich backstory is filled with triumph, adventure and excitement. It’s nothing short of a tapestry of fascinating tales of wonder. Even better, many excellent Victoria museums and galleries have catalogued this history and distilled it into exhibits that are as enlightening and educational as they are intriguing. From art to anthropology, maritime to miniatures, Victoria’s museums tell her tales in grand fashion for all to enjoy. Here are our picks for the city’s must-see exhibit halls. 

Royal BC Museum

First founded in 1886 (with the archives following in 1894), the Royal BC Museum in Victoria is one of the city’s finest cultural treasures. The museum’s permanent collections each focus on an important part of the story of Victoria, as well as the province as a whole. All told, the museum houses more than seven million objects spread across countless exhibits. In addition, the Royal BC Museum also hosts touring exhibits, so there’s always something new and interesting to see.  

675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8W 1A1

Thunderbird Park

3 First Nations totem poles in Thunderbird Park

Many visitors to the Royal BC Museum aren’t aware that this fantastic green space sits right outside. First established in 1941, Thunderbird Park houses an impressive collection of First Nations totem poles, reliefs and other carved art. Not only were many of these pieces far larger than could be accommodated by the museum itself, but curators and indigenous leaders felt that these artefacts should be displayed as they were intended to be seen — outdoors. The result is a spectacular exhibit of native art that’s not to be missed.

638 Douglas St, Victoria, BC V8V 2P8

Maritime Museum of British Columbia

Victoria is a seaside jewel, so our seafaring history is an integral part of our city’s fabric. This deep tradition is celebrated at the Maritime Museum of Victoria BC, where visitors will discover in-depth, interactive exhibits on shipping, shipbuilding, sailing, whaling, exploration, coastal preservation, the emergence of the area as a major western Canadian port and much more. More than 70 model ships are on display here, as well as period weaponry and relics.   

634 Humboldt St, Victoria, BC V8W 1A4, Canada

National Toy Museum of Canada

(Photo: @nationaltoymuseumofcanada)

Kids of all ages can celebrate the spirit of play at this one-of-a-kind museum. Begun by the proprietors of adjacent Cherry Bomb Toys as a means of preserving and displaying the most popular playthings of the past, the National Toy Museum grew as other fun-thusiasts donated their own collections. Today, the museum is home to a permanent collection of nostalgic toys for all to enjoy. And admission is always free for kids.

1410 Broad Street, Victoria, BC V8W 2B1   

Miniature World

Many museums feature massive exhibits presented on a grand scale. At Miniature World, the opposite approach is taken — and less is definitely more. As “The Greatest Little Show on Earth,” the museum showcases painstakingly recreated tiny tableaux such as the world’s smallest working sawmill, a detailed mini-scale railway, frontier recreations, fantasy-land scenes and even hand-painted dollhouses. Bring your magnifying glass!  

649 Humboldt St. Victoria, BC V8W 1A7

British Columbia Aviation Museum

(Photo: @bcaviationmuseum)

Canada’s rich aviation history is celebrated at this unique exhibit hall. Photos, artefacts, memorabilia and documents are on display, as well as more than 20 expertly restored vintage aircraft from bygone eras. These include a 1929 Eastman Flying Boat, fighters used in World War II and a 1911 Gibson Twin that was built right here in Victoria in the earliest days of Canada’s aircraft-building industry.

1910 Norseman Rd, North Saanich, BC V8L 5V5

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The AGGV is a fantastic museum that houses nearly 20,000 works from notable artists within its sprawling 2,500-square-metre (27,000 square foot) modern-style complex. With a focus on Canadian artists, indigenous art and Pacific Rim crafts, the museum’s assembly of art is the largest in the province. In addition to its permanent collection, the AGGV also hosts several touring exhibits each year.

1040 Moss St, Victoria, BC V8V 4P1

The Bateman Gallery

(Photo: @batemanfdn)

Founded by the noted nature artist and living legend Robert Bateman, this inspiring gallery features a collection that both promotes and showcases his important ecological ideals. The museum is dedicated not just to displaying his actual physical works, but also supporting his ongoing dedication to the work he and his team continue to undertake in the area of environmental preservation and education efforts. The artist is often in residence, as well. 

470 Belleville St, Victoria, BC V8V 1W9, Canada    

Centre of the Universe

As part of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, this flat-out fascinating museum incorporates exhibits on astronomy and the cosmos. In addition to countless hands-on exhibits, a fantastic planetarium and regular theatre presentations, visitors can also check out the massive Plaskett Telescope, which is regularly used in research operations. If you visit during the evening, there’s a good chance you can use the telescope to get in on a little stargazing yourself! 

5071 W Saanich Rd Victoria, BC V9E 2E7

Planning a museum tour? Let Parkside Hotel & Spa be your host! We’re nearby every above mentioned exhibit hall, so you’ll have no trouble making the rounds. Take a look at our special offers, and select the travel package that’s right for you.