Jumping for joy (or just trying to keep warm)? Chris Robinson (third from left) joins architect Donna Clare (fourth from left) and her team, in celebrating the start of construction of the new museum.

Jumping for joy (or just trying to keep warm)? Chris Robinson (third from left) joins architect Donna Clare (fourth from left) and her team, in celebrating the start of construction of the new museum.

If you’ve driven along 103A Avenue recently,in the vicinity of City Hall, you’ve probably noticed something new … or, more correctly,something missing.

The old city post office has been demolished, and in the space of just a few months we haveseen its rubble (90% of which will be recycled) replaced with the start of construction of the new Royal Alberta Museum.

Not one to miss milestones, we wanted to mark this moment with a special ceremony, so on Friday, February 7 – a bitterly cold day – we officially recognized the start of construction. Apart from a large hole in the ground, there wasn’t much to see … but it was the significance of this
pit that brought us together that day. It was our pit! Our construction site!

Since the new museum is sited on traditional Treaty 6 land, the event began with a blessing by Francis Alexis, historian with the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. Francis was joined by representatives of three levels of government: His Worship Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton; the Honourable Laurie Hawn, MP for Edmonton-Centre; the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health Canada and MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove; and the Honourable Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Alberta Culture and MLA for Edmonton-Glenora. There were approximately 50 people in attendance, from museum staff and FRAMS board members, to the architects and builders, all there to witness the start of something magnificent and new for downtown Edmonton and all Albertans.

This event was followed a few days later by the first pour of concrete, cementing the commitment (sorry!) to building the new 400,000 square-foot museum. For anyone who wishes to monitor the progress of construction, we have a viewing portal on 103A Avenue looking into the site, but we also have two live construction cams, where you can watch construction from the comfort of your easy chair (you’ll find the live camera link at: royalalbertamuseum.ca). In the coming months, up to 300 workers will be on the site at any given time, so it will soon become very busy, and it will be interesting to check it out online or in person every now and then, for progress will be rapid.

While construction is going on, museum staff are active in planning the new galleries, everything from state-of-the-art temporary exhibition space, to signature galleries exploring Alberta’s natural and cultural history, to a dedicated museum space for children and, of course, the Bug Room. We are going from 40,000 square feet of gallery space to over 80,000 … and it is these galleries, and the stories they tell, that I will begin to share in greater detail with FRAMS members in the coming months, through both your newsletter and events like #MuseumAfterDark. The #MAD reference reminds me to thank the board and members of FRAMS for organizing and hosting such a truly enjoyable and memorable event. It was a resounding success that did indeed share the museum after dark with an appreciative audience. Thank you!

Chris Robinson
Executive Director, Royal Alberta Museum

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