New Royal Al­berta Mu­seum opens Oct. 3 with six days of free en­try

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - KEITH GEREIN [email protected] twit­ter.com/ kei­thgerein

ED­MON­TON Al­ber­tans grow­ing rest­less for the new Royal Al­berta Mu­seum to un­lock its doors don’t have much longer to wait.

The $375.5-mil­lion down­town fa­cil­ity, touted as the largest mu­seum in West­ern Canada, will of­fi­cially open to the pub­lic at noon on Oct. 3 and will be­gin its life by of­fer­ing six days of free ad­mis­sion, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

“The count­down is now of­fi­cially on un­til Al­ber­tans can once again step in­side their pro­vin­cial mu­seum to find the his­tory of Al­berta they will not find any­where else,” Cul­ture and Tourism Min­is­ter Ri­cardo Mi­randa told a news con­fer­ence.

“I think ev­ery­one in­volved in this ex­tra­or­di­nary project would say we can­not wait to see all of you walk­ing through the halls and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this mag­nif­i­cent place.”

To help con­trol crowds, of­fi­cials said there would be 41,000 free en­tries avail­able dur­ing the six days. By 5:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day, about six hours af­ter the an­nounce­ment, all tick­ets ini­tially avail­able through the mu­seum’s on­line book­ing sys­tem were “sold out.” A spokes­woman for the mu­seum said they were “re­view­ing their ca­pac­ity ” for the free days.

Mu­seum ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Chris Robin­son said the mu­seum will open with all of its pub­lic spa­ces and dis­plays ready to go. That in­cludes some 5,300 ob­jects and more than 7,600 square me­tres of gallery space — dou­ble that of the old mu­seum in Glenora.

The first six days will also fea­ture a num­ber of dance and mu­sic per­for­mances from Al­berta cul­tural groups, Robin­son said.

As for the ex­hibits, the fa­cil­ity will of­fer favourites from the old RAM, such as the bug gallery, along with new ex­hibits that have never been seen be­fore.

Guests can visit halls ded­i­cated to Al­berta’s hu­man his­tory and nat­u­ral his­tory, as well as an in­ter­ac­tive chil­dren’s gallery. There will also be a free ad­mis­sion space for the Man­i­tou Stone, a sa­cred ob­ject to In­dige­nous peo­ple.

Mi­randa ac­knowl­edged that get­ting the mu­seum ready has been a com­plex and time-con­sum­ing project.

Ex­te­rior con­struc­tion of the build­ing was com­pleted on bud­get and on time in the fall of 2016. The prov­ince then an­nounced it ex­pected to have the fa­cil­ity open by late 2017, but ended up re­quir­ing 10 months more.

“As you can imag­ine, mov­ing all those pieces, en­gag­ing with In­dige­nous peo­ple to tell their sto­ries in cul­tur­ally mean­ing­ful ways that are re­spect­ful, takes a lot of time, takes a lot of con­ver­sa­tion,” Mi­randa said. “We also had to en­sure that in the bug gallery, for ex­am­ple, that we had the live spec­i­mens ac­cli­ma­tized. A lot of work had to be done to en­sure all of these mov­ing pieces fit nicely to­gether in ad­di­tion

A lot of work had to be done to en­sure all of these mov­ing pieces fit.

to adding the new pieces.”

About 2.4 mil­lion ob­jects had to be moved from the for­mer site, he said.

In ad­di­tion to the new build­ing, the mu­seum has mod­ern­ized its woolly mam­moth logo that has been in use since 1967.

The open­ing hours for the first six days are as fol­lows:

Wed­nes­day, Oct. 3: Noon to 5 p.m.

Thurs­day, Oct. 4: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fri­day, Oct. 5 to Mon­day, Oct. 8: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nor­mal hours and ad­mis­sion prices will com­mence on Oct. 9.

ED KAISER

Royal Al­berta Mu­seum ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Chris Robin­son says the first six days will fea­ture a num­ber of dance and mu­sic per­for­mances.

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