Canada being a relatively new country means there is a lack of ancient history (with the exception of First Nations history). However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get your dose of culture at the many museums around Metro Vancouver that can give you more insight on what life was like.
Some of those museums don’t fit the traditional meaning of the word but they are sure to transport you to another time and open your eyes to knowledge you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
1- Museum of Anthropology
Definitely the most famous out of all the museums not only in Vancouver or British Columbia but in Canada itself. I’m a big anthropology buff as it’s simply put, the study of humans and I find it fascinating.
The museum, part of the University of British Columbia (UBC), contains many collections of world art and cultures as well as First Nations exhibits. It is also one of the very few museums, if not the only one, that often makes it to the lists of “must see” in Vancouver.
An adult ticket to the museum costs 17.14 CAD and can be purchased either in-person or at the Vancouver Attractions website. Keep in mind that entry to some special events is not always included in the main ticket and you may have to get a separate entry.
2- Vancouver Maritime Museum
We first noticed this museum on our first visit to Kitsilano. Opened in 1959 in Vanier park, the museum tells the entire maritime history of Vancouver. With many artifacts and vessel stories, it is very educational and interesting for beginners and experts alike.
While there, don’t miss the heritage harbour where old heritage vessels can be seen floating around!
A general admission tickets costs 13.5 CAD for adults.
3- Beaty Biodiversity Museum
Another UBC museum, this one focused more on, you guessed it, biodiversity. It is home to many exhibits covering topics from dinosaurs and fossils to the Earth’s timeline, fish and invertebrates.
When you visit, make sure not to miss Big Blue, one of the world’s very few blue whale skeletons.
4- Vancouver Police Museum
Interested in learning more about the history of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), crime stories and forensics? Then this is the place for you.
Exhibits cover topics like morgues and autopsies, courtrooms, lives of servicemen and true crime stories.
An adult ticket costs 12 CAD and can be bought directly from the museum’s website.
5- Museum of Vancouver
Located in Vanier park in Kitsilano, right next the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the Museum of Vancouver tells the story of the city with frequent new exhibitions, events and programs. The museum is a good starting point to learn about the history of the city you’re currently in. Tickets are 10 CAD for adults and can be purchased on this website.
6- Roedde House Museum
The Roedde museum is located in the Barclay Heritage Square in downtown. If you wondered what living in the Victorian era would be like, a simple stroll through the square will show you a series of colorful Victorian houses, one of which has been converted to a museum. It contains over 2500 items and artifacts of the era!
While the square itself is free and accessible, tickets need to be purchased to enter the museum (10 CAD for adults).
7- Burnaby Village Museum
Not your average museum! The Burnaby Village Museum is an open-air seasonal museum. It is a reconstructed village from the 1920s that will transport you back in time as you stroll through the streets. You can go in over 30 different buildings!
Admission to the museum is free with the exception of carousel rides that are priced at 2.65 CAD each.
8- Rennie Museum
Located in a historical building in Chinatown, this art museum displays the private collections of Bob Rennie.
The entrance is free and the staff offers guided tours including access to the roof sculpture garden.
9- Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site
We visited the small village of Steveston after a recommendation from a work colleague. We had never come across that tiny Richmond village when we were still new and looking for things to do.
To get to Steveston by transit, another bus is needed after getting to the last stop, Richmond-Brighouse, of the Canada Line, so take transit time into consideration when heading there.
Once there, you will find the historical site of the Britannia Shipyards, which is a group of historical buildings, canneries, boatyards and residences that you can walk in and out of while learning what working in a shipyard was like at the time.
10- New Westminster Museum
Located around 40 minutes by Skytrain away from Vancouver, New Westminster has its own museum containing historical records and artifacts of the city.
The museum consists of three galleries: a permanent one showcasing 10,000 years of New Westminster’s history, a temporary gallery with different exhibitions and interactive areas and a third gallery located in a colonial home, Irving House.
Admission to all sites is by donation.
11- West Vancouver Fire Services Museum
Ever wanted to learn more about the history of firefighting? Then head to the West Vancouver Fire Services Museum and Archives Society where you will find antique fire trucks, historical documents and clippings about the West Vancouver Fire Department and lots of knowledge on the early days of firefighting, the volunteers and the equipment they used.
12- BC Sports Hall of Fame Museum
To learn more about BC sport history, you can find the Hall of Fame museum in BC place, at the entrance of the stadium. There is an extensive collections of archives and artefacts on various types of sports. There is of course a collection that is focused on the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics that took place in Vancouver.
And of course every Hall of Fame has its inductees so make sure to learn more about the various athletes that have been inducted!
Admission to the museum costs 18 CAD for adults.
13- Old Hastings Mill Store Museum
The Hastings Mill Store is Vancouver’s oldest building… ever. After the sawmill was closed, it was moved to Alma street where it was reconverted into a museum. There you will see First Nations art as well as collections from the initial days of the city of Vancouver.
Admission is pay what you can by cash or 10$ using credit and debit card.
14- Seaforth Highlanders Regimental Museum
The Seaforth Highlanders are Vancouver’s infantry museum and thus have a museum dedicated to their history. Exhibits cover the history of the infantry during both world wars up to modern times.
15- Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Another university museum, this time at Simon Fraser University. While the museum focuses on British Columbia, it has content and collections from around the world. The exhibits themselves are created by students as part of their studies.
16- Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Center
The Nikkei National Museum is focused more on Japanese Canadian history, heritage and culture. The museum’s mission is to showcase the contribution of Japanese Canadians in the country and promote better understanding of the culture since the 1800s and more importantly during World War II.
17- Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia
The Jewish Museum doesn’t have a permanent exhibition but relies on traveling exhibits telling the story of the Jewish Canadian community as well as research and archives on the community worldwide.
Visitors can contact the museum to organize walking educational tours and participate in the special programs and exhibits taking place at the time.
18- Chinese Cultural Centre Museum
This museum’s focus is on Chinese Canadian culture, history and arts. The permanent exhibition is about the various generations of Chinese Canadians and their contribution to the social fabric of Vancouver. More temporary exhibits occasionally take place, most recently about Chinese Canadians in the military.
Admission is free and donations are welcome.
19- Fort Langley
Like the Burnaby Village Museum, Fort Langley is an open air recreated village from the days of the fur trading. The fort was a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and going in, it will be as if you are living during that time. Volunteers in characters do demonstrations as well as explanations of what life was like. You can also explore the various buildings that contain artifacts and collections.
Admission to the historical site for adults is 7.9 CAD.
20- Canadian Museum of Flight
Also located in Langley, the museum tells the story of British Columbia aviation. The museum collection consists of restored helicopters and airplanes and provides information on the contributions of British Columbia to aviation. One of the planes in the collection, the Hampden bomber, is the last of its type in existence.
It is great experience for kids and fans of aviation alike and admission is 10 CAD for adults.
21- Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition
Fan of motorcycles and riding? Then this is the place for you. The Deeley family were private collectors and the first to bring the Harley-Davidson brand to Canada. The current exhibition tells the storyne of 100 years of motorcycling by showcasing motorcycles from various time periods.
Admission is by donation.
22- Port Moody Station Museum
Owned and operated by the Port Moody Heritage Society, this museum showcases the history and culture of Port Moody and includes the railway station, meditation gardens, a railcar and a trench.
23- Cap’s Bicycle Shop Museum
While primarily a bicycle store, Cap’s Bicycle Shop hosts an ancient and vintage bicycle collection that you can check out for free, ranging from the 1800s to modern times!
24- BC Vintage Truck Museum
Another free admission vintage transportation museum, this time focused on trucks and located in Surrey!
25- Royal Westminster Regiment Museum
The first officially recognized military museum in Canada! It is home to exhibits sharing collections and photographs of the Royal Westminster Regiment and pays tribute to fallen soldiers during the Second World War. The men of the regiment saw more combat than any other unit in Canada during World War II and it’s why Queen Elizabeth bestowed the Royal title upon them.
26- Fraser River Discovery Centre
Why would a river need its own museum you may ask? The first signs of human occupation date nearly 10,000 years! Ever since, Aboriginal communities have settled, followed by the Fort Langley trading post being established, then the Fraser River Gold Rush as gold was discovered in the canyon, as well as constructions of sawmills and canneries. Exhibits will tell stories of how the river was integral to life and development of the area.
Admission for adults is 6 CAD.
27- PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives
Preserving the heritage of cities is important and it’s what the city of Port Coquitlam is doing in this museum. The permanent exhibit, created in collaboration with the Kwikwelem First Nations, includes interpretive panels along the Traboulay PoCo trail.
28- Samson V Maritime Museum
The Samson V is a wooden steam-power sternwheeler, the last to operate in Canada and the only intact and floating wooden sternwheeler in North America.
Admission is free with donpations welcome and give you access to the three levels of the boat.
29- Pacific Museum of Earth
Affiliated to UBC, this museum of natural history is focused on the evolution of plane Earth, minerals and rocks, natural disasters and the animals that inhabited the planet.
Admission is by donation.
30- Coquitlam Heritage Society
While the main focus is covering the heritage of the city of Coquitlam, this museum located in a heritage house also runs exhibits on sports, the science of objects as well as heirlooms.
31- Richmond Museum
The go-to museum to learn more about the history of the city of Richmond as well as the various communities that lived in it. Collections document the development of the city and the men and women of diverse origins who have led to it becoming the urban city it now is.
Admission to the museum is by donation.
Are there any museums we missed? Let us know in the comments below!