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Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

The Royal BC Museum’s much-anticipated feature exhibition, Orcas: Our Shared Future, opens April 16 and runs until January 9, 2022.

This visually stunning exhibition makes its global debut after a year-long postponement due to COVID-19, and offers a deep dive into the stories and science that surround the magnificent orca—spirit of British Columbia’s wild coast and apex predator of all oceans.

Through dramatic displays—including three life-size orca replicas and the skeletons of Rhapsody (J32) and her unborn calf—visitors will explore currents of ecological activism, popular culture and Indigenous beliefs to gain a deeper understanding of how orcas and humans are inextricably connected.

“This is a timely and challenging story—and one that we are uniquely qualified to tell,” says Dr. Daniel Muzyka, RBCM board chair and acting CEO. “Our unique collections, curatorial expertise and physical and emotional proximity to orcas and oceans combine in an edifying and ultimately hopeful experience that affirms we are all part of nature—not apart from nature.”

Among the 100-plus artifacts on display are rare cultural objects by Indigenous artists, including an articulated dance mask by Richard Hunt (Kwaguilth); an intricately carved Gold Killer Whale Box by Bill Reid (Haida); and a specially commissioned painting by Haida manga artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

The exhibition is complemented by a beautifully illustrated companion publication that brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists and storytellers. The best-selling Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History ($29.95, edited by Dr. Martha Black, Dr. Lorne Hammond and Dr. Gavin Hanke with Nikki Sanchez), is currently available through local bookshops, the Royal Museum Shop and online at rbcm.ca/books.

Orcas: Our Shared Future is produced by the Royal BC Museum in partnership with MuseumsPartner, which collaborated on the recent Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises and Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs exhibitions, in 2019 and 2018 respectively.