art gallery-museum

The Top Ten Museums in Victoria BC!

Perched on the southernmost point of Vancouver Island is Victoria, a fantastic holiday destination that boasts incredible weather, stunning natural beauty, gorgeous architecture, and incredible restaurants. However, beyond its scenic beauty and fantastic culinary scene, Greater Victoria has a fascinating history. Whether you’re interested in exploring more of Victoria’s human history and heritage or the incredible natural history of the region, we’re going to help you find the best museums in Victoria BC to learn about both! Our top ten list encapsulates the essence of Vancouver Island’s heritage from the opulent charm of Craigdarroch to the natural and human wonders at the Royal British Columbia Museum and the artistic landscapes of the AGGV, each destination weaves a tapestry of experiences suitable for all ages! Join us on this exploration and unlock the secrets of Victoria’s captivating history—one museum at a time! 

Royal British Columbia Museum

675 Belleville St., Victoria, BC | 1-250-356-7226

Nestled in the heart of downtown Victoria’s inner harbour, right next to the Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum (RBCM) stands as one of the Island’s best museums, seamlessly blending the region’s natural and human history. The journey begins outside the building in Thunderbird Park where guests are greeted by magnificent totem poles that proudly stand as testaments to the rich First Nations heritage. Adjacent to the Iconic Thunderbird Park you can find the historic Helmcken House and St. Ann’s Schoolhouse–two of oldest and most important buildings in Victoria’s history that have been moved onsite. Together these outdoor exhibits add to the city’s cultural tapestry. 

Inside, the museum’s extensive collection showcases meticulously crafted, life-size dioramas in the Natural History Gallery, offering an immersive journey through the diverse ecosystems of the region. The museum’s dedication to First Nations history is exemplified through captivating exhibits that explore the culture, importance and complexities of the region’s First Nations people. The RBCM also hosts incredible, immersive temporary exhibits like the recent exhibit that explored in depth the awe-inspiring wonders of Angkor, Cambodia and for a cinematic experience, the IMAX Theatre captivates audiences with awe-inspiring visuals! Check the website for up-to-date information about exhibits and IMAX showings! 

Ultimately, the RBCM is not just a museum–it’s a captivating exploration of Vancouver Island’s past and present, where you can immerse yourself in the stories and journey through time and space! 

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia

744 Douglas St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-385-4222

The Maritime Museum of BC offers visitors a captivating exploration of seafaring history of Canada’s West Coast. Located right downtown Victoria, this museum has beautifully curated exhibits showcasing awe-inspiring artefacts and engaging displays. From the intricate details of maritime craftsmanship to the tales of exploration and trade, the museum collection paints a vivid picture of the seafaring past. Step aboard and discover the stories that have shaped the identity of the West Coast, where each display is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of those who navigated these waters. Whether you’re a maritime enthusiast or simply captivated by the allure of the sea, the Maritime Museum of BC invites you to uncover the maritime treasures, stories and wonders that have shaped the history of the West Coast.

1040 Moss St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-384-4171

In Victoria’s upscale, heritage neighbourhood of Rockland, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) is a cultural haven offering a dynamic blend of exhibitions. Renovated in 2003, AGGV boasts state-of-the-art facilities, allowing it to host prestigious touring exhibitions and showcase a world-class Asian art collection, including Chinese artefacts and exquisite ivory carvings. From contemporary masterpieces to engaging outreach programs, the gallery promises an immersive art experience. Beyond its exceptional collection, AGGV actively engages the community through volunteerism, memberships, and inclusive programs, ensuring art is accessible to all. Collaborating with artists and cultural organizations, the gallery presents exhibitions and programs that stimulate critical thought and meaningful dialogue. With almost 70 years of history, AGGV stands as a vital cultural cornerstone, celebrated in its incredible curation, collections and enriched by a thoughtful gift shop perfect for finding treasures to take home from your visit.

Craigdarroch Castle

1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC | 1-250-592-5323

Rising up from amongst ordinary neighbourhood homes, Craigdarroch Castle is an charming anachronism that allows visitors to step into the lavish world of Victorian elegance. Built in the late 19th century, this architectural gem showcases meticulous craftsmanship, from hand-carved woodwork to stunning stained glass windows. As you travel through the home, each room and floor, unveils a narrative of the Dunsmuir family’s opulent past, immersing guests in the grandeur of a bygone era. Beyond its historical significance, the castle offers panoramic views from the turret, and is surrounded by manicured gardens. Ideal for anyone interested in Victorian era history, historical interior design and the life of the upper class in burgeoning Canada, Craigdarroch Castle promises a captivating journey into the past.

CFB Naval and Military Museum

Naden St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-363-4312

At CFB Naval and Military Museum in historic Esquimalt, you can dive into the storied history of the Canadian Scottish Regiment and the military heritage of the region. Housed within the confines of CFB Esquimalt, this museum offers a compelling glimpse into the valiant contributions of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, showcasing artefacts and exhibits that chronicle their rich legacy. From meticulously preserved military uniforms to poignant wartime memorabilia, the museum provides an immersive experience that resonates with the proud traditions of the Canadian Armed Forces. As you explore the exhibits, the museum seamlessly weaves together the narrative of Esquimalt’s military history, offering visitors a profound understanding of the sacrifices made and the heroic endeavours undertaken. A visit to the CFB Naval and Military Museum is not just an exploration of artefacts; it’s a salute to the indomitable spirit of those who have served, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and anyone intrigued by the proud military heritage of Canada.

Carr House

207 Government St, Victoria, BC | 1-250-383-5843

Carr House, located in the beautiful downtown neighbourhood of James Bay is a beautifully restored provincial and National Historic Site. As the birthplace of the renowned writer and artist, Emily Carr, this historic home and its lush gardens have been transformed into a vibrant cultural centre, providing a unique space for education, exploration, and mentoring. As you step into the hallowed halls of Carr House, immerse yourself in the inspiration drawn from Emily Carr’s life themes: art, writing, nature, indigenous peoples, feminism, animal rights, emerging creativity, and mentorship. The centre also hosts many community-driven programs that creatively weave together these themes, offering a rich and immersive experience that honours Emily Carr’s legacy. Visit the website for details on the home, hours of operation and programs inspired by Emily Carr’s impactful life.

Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse

603 Fort Rodd Hill Rd, Victoria, BC | 1-250-478-5849

Perched on the rugged shores of Esquimalt, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse invites visitors to explore the intersecting worlds of military history and maritime heritage. This national historic site was a 19th century artillery fortress operational from 1895 to 1956. Delve into the captivating history of Canada’s west coast at Fisgard Lighthouse, the oldest of its kind in the region. Here, you can learn about the personal stories of soldiers and lighthouse keepers, brought to life through bite-size tales available on the audio tour, detailing dramatic events since 1860. Learn about important figures like General Sir Arthur Currie who trained at Fort Rodd Hill and the unique contributions of three hometown heroes during the Second World War who are connected to Fort Rodd Hill and Vancouver Island. Experience a unique oTENTik camp-out within the fortress, storming the fort by day and stargazing over Fisgard Lighthouse by night! You can also retreat to the Garry Oak Meadow, where one of Canada’s rarest native ecosystems bloom, accompanied by the steady murmur of bees. Discover the rich history housed within the fort’s three gun batteries, underground magazines, command posts, guardhouses, barracks, and searchlight emplacements, all complemented by interpretive signs and audio-visual stations. At Fisgard Lighthouse, built in 1860, you can step inside the former lighthouse keeper’s house for exhibits and a video station, unveiling the fascinating tales about the history of Canada’s west coast.

Sidney Museum

2423 Beacon Ave L-3, Sidney, BC | 1-250-655-6355

Explore the captivating history of the Saanich Peninsula at the Sidney Museum, a cultural beacon that was established in 1971. With over 8,000 artefacts and a wealth of archival images, the museum offers a unique journey through the area’s natural and social history. Discover regularly updated permanent displays featuring local First Nations art and history, industry, transportation, agriculture, and more. The museum’s dynamic showcase exhibits, changing throughout the year, provide fresh perspectives on the region’s heritage. Unveiling the Saanich Peninsula’s evolving narratives, Sidney Museum stands as a proud custodian, preserving and sharing the rich heritage and culture of its community in an immersive and accessible manner. Check the exhibition schedule for upcoming highlights!

Hatley Castle

2005 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC | 1-250-391-2600

Nestled in the Victoria suburb of Colwood just outside of downtown Victoria, Hatley Castle unfolds as a living testament to a century of history, from its inception in 1908 to its present role as the administrative centre for Royal Roads University. Commissioned by James Dunsmuir and designed by Victorian architect Samuel Maclure, the castle’s grandeur is matched only by its lavish interiors featuring oak and rosewood panelling, teak floors, and a baronial fireplace. Explore the Hatley Park Museum housed within, dedicated to the preservation of the castle’s rich heritage. Discover artefacts and exhibits narrating the property’s evolution, from a Coastal Salish Indian burial site to a lavish private home, to a military officer’s training school and, finally, a university. The museum is committed to heritage maintenance, restoration, and providing visitors insight into Hatley Park’s pivotal role in Victoria’s heritage. Admission is free and guided tours are available, inviting you to either explore on your own or get in-depth knowledge of this unique historical gem.

Shaw Center for the Salish Sea 

9811 Seaport Pl, Sidney, BC | 1-250-665-7511

Discover the wonders of the Salish Sea at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. Located right on the picturesque Sidney waterfront, this award-winning aquarium and learning centre provides an engaging, interactive, and informative experience for visitors of all ages. Boasting over 35 aquarium habitats featuring more than 160 marine species and 3,500 animals, including a giant Pacific octopus and rare wolf eels, the Centre immerses you in the rich biodiversity and natural history of the Salish Sea. Explore a touch pool, marvel at a fully intact killer whale skeleton, and admire a unique collection of Coast Salish Indigenous art. Perfect for families, school groups, and tourists, the Centre offers public programs, self-guided tours, and a Salish Sea Store with locally sourced, environmentally-friendly arts and crafts. Delve into the cultural, ecological, and scientific aspects of the Salish Sea Bioregion, connecting with its vibrant marine life and Coast Salish heritage. The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea: where exploration, learning, and conservation come together on the Sidney waterfront.