EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was first published when the opening date was announced on September 12, and was updated on October 3.
The new Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton will be open to the public on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
After much anticipation, the opening date was finally revealed by the provincial government in September. As a way to celebrate the new RAM, admission will be free for the first six days — from noon on Wednesday, Oct. 3 until 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 8.
Only 41,000 free admission tickets were available. All visitors must book a time-specific ticket online to visit during the free opening week. Within one day, the free admission tickets were sold out. (See full opening hours below).
WATCH: On opening morning, the Royal Alberta Museum lead architect Donna Clare joined Kent Morrison to talk about all the thought and work that went into constructing the new building in downtown Edmonton.
The Alberta government said it was thrilled to see such excitement about the new RAM.
“We will be reviewing our visitor capacity for the opening weekend,” a government spokesperson said in an email to Global News. “Please watch our social media channels for updates on Thursday.”
The museum, on 103A Avenue between 97 and 99 streets, will be the largest in western Canada. With 82,000-square-feet of exhibition space, it’s about twice the size of the former museum in the Glenora area.
“I’m so pleased to see this long-awaited addition to our downtown core,” Mayor Don Iveson said in a media release. “It will enhance visitors’ historical and cultural experiences in our city and encourage more tourism which, in turn, benefits our local economy.”
In 2011, the province decided it was time to build a new museum in the heart of downtown Edmonton after outgrowing the previous site. Construction on the new facility began in 2013 and was completed in 2016.
From there, the gargantuan task of moving all of the artifacts and exhibits began. Most recently, museum staff took on the weeks-long task of moving the live invertebrate collection. Thousands of the museum’s smallest live exhibits were carefully transported to their new home at the downtown location.
In total, 2.4 million pieces were moved from the old building to the new site.
While different opening dates had been announced over the years, Alberta’s minister of Culture and Tourism said there was a reason for the delay.
“As you can imagine, moving all of those pieces and engaging with Indigenous peoples as we tell their stories in culturally meaningful ways that are respectful, takes a lot of time, takes a lot of conversation,” Ricardo Miranda said.
“We also had to ensure that the bug gallery, for example, that we had the live specimens acclimatized. And of course, all those different things, all those moving pieces take time to complete.”
Watch below: Two million exhibits have been relocated to the new Royal Alberta Museum downtown. Some of the smallest parts of the collection were moved in late August.
In addition to galleries devoted to human and natural history, the new RAM will have a feature gallery for rotating exhibitions, an expansive bug room, an interactive children’s gallery focused on learning through play and a space dedicated specifically to the Manitou Stone.
The cost of the new RAM, including construction of the facility as well as gallery and exhibit development, was $375.5 million. The Alberta government contributed $253 million. The remaining $122.5 million came from the federal government’s Building Canada Fund.
Miranda said the museum came in on budget.
The old museum opened in December 1967 and closed in December 2015.
No firm decisions have been made about the future use of the former museum building.
For the grand opening, the museum will be open during the following hours:
- Wednesday, Oct. 3: noon to 5 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 4: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 5 to Monday, Oct. 8: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Regular admission to the museum will resume on Oct. 9.
WATCH: It’s been years in the making, but the newest attraction in downtown Edmonton is set to welcome the public in just a few weeks. As Julia Wong explains, the Royal Alberta Museum now has a much anticipated opening date.