10 Jan

A Visit to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum

How excited am I after a visit to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum yesterday…? SO VERY EXCITED! I could move in and live there forever, except I’m sure that’s not allowed, or very comfortable. I’ll just have to content myself with a yearly membership and frequent visits.

Our adventure to the museum happened on a spur of the moment Sunday afternoon. I was looking at photos of bones and things I’d taken at the ROM three years ago, when Boris suddenly remembered he’d recently bought an admission ticket for the Beaty through Groupon. It opened over the summer and I’d been wanting to visit, so off we went on the long journey to the other side of town.

The first thing you see upon entering the Beaty Biodiversity Museum is the awe-inspiring Blue Whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling in the main atrium. I’m sure the sight of it causes many a traffic jam by the front door as people stop to stare. I continued staring from every angle as I spiralled my way down the ramp to the bottom level where the rest of the collection is located. Standing underneath the whale made me feel very small and I couldn’t help but imagine it crashing down on top of me. (Curses to my over-active imagination).

Blue Whale skeleton
Blue Whale skeleton - tail view
Blue Whale skeleton - ribs & vertebrae

All but a small fraction of objects are tucked away in a vast underground storage facility that houses the over two million pieces in the museum’s collection. It’s the storage that doubles as display and walking through the endless rows of tall cabinets reveals windows of skulls, taxidermied animals and birds, aquatic life in jars, fossils, preserved flora, insects, and everything else to do with the study of biodiversity.

Beaty Museum - Reindeer

As a child I was always drawn to the animal displays in museums, but as an adult I can’t help pondering the staggering amount of dead animals taken for the sake of research and how this contributes to the depletion of species. It’s a bit morbid to realize how many dead things are in one place, even if I do happen to have a fascination with dead things.

Beaty Museum - Albatross

Beaty Museum - Brown Pelican

Beaty Museum - Eggs

Boris and I started out following a tour of people lead by an interpreter but quickly got side-tracked by one wow-inducing thing after another. There was really no end to the captivating objects and creatures to look at.

Beaty Museum  Beetles

Beaty Museum - Crocodile skin

This crocodile still looks ready to eat passerby – and with a smile I might add – even though all that remains is its skin. It was HUGE.

Beaty Museum - Sturgeon

Beaty Museum - Seahorse in a display case

The windows into the storage units are sporadically placed throughout every row, and there is a variety of ways things are displayed. Some are set up to show objects at their best advantage, while others (like these) are pure organized storage views. I was amused to see even museums use shoeboxes to stash things away.

Beaty Museum - Storage shoe boxes

Beaty Museum - Boobies or Cormorants

Beaty Museum - Vast amount of storage

The Beaty Museum is a welcome addition to Vancouver’s cultural repertoire, and goes on my list of recommendations to locals and visitors alike. For me it can finally be a stand in for the ROM, a place I would visit frequently when I lived in Toronto and miss having access to. It’s funny how looking at photos taken at one led to the exciting discovery of the other.

Please visit flickr to view the full set of photos from my exploration of the museum.


  1. Great photos Rachael. I can’t wait to go. I also got tickets through Groupon 🙂 This reminds me of my dad’s work from my youth, so it will be a wonderful thing to see and be reminded of that.

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© Rachael Ashe