Family-Friendly Vancouver Museums and Galleries
Most of us think of visiting museums or historic sites or art galleries when we’re travelling; it’s a good way to explore local history and culture of whatever city or country we find ourselves in. But Vancouver is blessed with a huge variety of local facilities that are not just family-friendly but full of incredible opportunities for learning. Be a tourist in your own town, and check out some of these Vancouver museums and galleries in the coming months. Most of them have activities specifically for children, or feature exhibitions that are fascinating to all ages (who isn’t amazed by the skeleton of a giant blue whale, for example!) Bonus: many of them offer group events or birthday party gatherings for the little ones so if you enjoy your visit, keep it mind the next time you’re preparing for a celebration.
Family-Friendly Vancouver Museums & Galleries in Vancouver
Vanouver Maritime Museum – Vancouver
Tucked away in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, the Vancouver Maritime Museum has been helping local residents explore the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic for more than 60 years. Their most popular exhibition is the St. Roch, a former RCMP vessel that is also a National Historic Site housed in an A-frame shelter. With a variety of exhibitions and programs, many aimed at children, the facility is an ideal place for a unique family outing. For more information, see vanmaritime.com.
Britannia Mine – Britannia Beach
The Britannia Mine opened its doors in 1904 and operated for more than 70 years, at points being the largest copper mine in the British Empire. More than 60,000 people lived and worked there over those seven decades. Their stories, and information about mining and the history of mining in BC and Canada, are all part of the fun at this facility. With mine cart rides inside dark tunnels, gold panning and much more, this is one of the coolest Vancouver museums for kids of all ages. For more information, see: www.britanniaminemuseum.ca.
Beaty Biodiversity Museum – UBC – Vancouver campus
Let your kids dive into the “diversity of life” at Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. With more than 500 exhibits (including one that features the massive jaw bone of a blue whale) over 20,000 square feet of museum space. With more two million specimens, including dinosaur tracks from the early Cretaceous period, fossils of mammals, reptiles, and plants, there are displays here sure to capture the imagination of any child. Check out the hands-on Allan Yap Discovery Lab and Theatre for interesting activities and shows. For more information, see beatymuseum.ubc.ca.
Britannia Shipyards – Richmond
This Canadian National Historic Site is an authentic recreation of a thriving seaside community of canneries, boat yards, stores and homes. Many of the buildings date back to the late 1800s and the exhibits tell the stories of the many people who lived and worked here in years past. Hours and exhibit availability changes from season to season, so check current information before going. For more details, see britanniashipyards.ca.
Fraser River Discovery Centre – New Westminster
On the shores of the Fraser River, adjacent to the popular New Westminster Quay and Market, this hands-on family-focused facility is aimed at helping people learn more about the Mighty Fraser. From its unique history to the people who have lived alongside it, to the businesses and industry that have built up around it, this facility has a rotating series of exhibits and programs. Ideal for a family outing or for groups of children from local schools. For more information, see fraserriverdiscovery.org.
HR McMillan Space Centre – Vancouver
Known locally as the Planetarium, this facility in Vanier Park first opened in 1968 and has been teaching Vancouver residents about the sun, moon, stars, and beyond ever since. With a theatre, an exhibit gallery, and a demonstration theatre, there is always something new – and something familiar – on display to learn about. Hosting various lectures and events throughout the year, the facility continues to draw thousands each year, including many school field trips. For more information, see www.spacecentre.ca.
Museum of Anthropology – UBC, Vancouver
Located at the Point Grey campus of UBC, the MOA is one of the country’s largest teaching museums with a variety of courses being held on site in museum studies, museum education and conservation, as well as Indigenous and world art. Nearly 50,000 works from all corners of the world are held on site, with thousands more in the Laboratory of Archaeology. The facility is known for its lare collection of Northwest Coast art, including works by Bill Reid and other Indigenous artists, along with collections from Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and Europe. For more information, see https://moa.ubc.ca/.
Vancouver Art Gallery – Vancouver
Known as one of Canada’s largest and most respected visual art institutions, the Vancouver Art Gallery has a variety of rotating exhibitions and extensive public programming for all ages, including programs focused on offering art education and resources for local families. There are also programs aimed specifically at teens and young adults. For more information, see www.vanartgallery.bc.ca.
Museum of Vancouver – Vancouver
One of the best Vancouver museums to focus on home, you can explore the unique history and people of Vancouver at the Museum of Vancouver. Learn about local Indigenous history, and the later development and growth of the city itself. Exhibits feature a variety of interesting objects from the city – old neon business signs, replicas of particular sites, and more. The MOV has a stated mission to be a gathering space that fosters connection and learning. For more information, see museumofvancouver.ca/.
BC Sports Hall of Fame – Vancouver
No list of Vancouver museums would be complete without including one for the sports fans in the family. The BC Sports Hall of Fame celebrates the achievements of great athletes and moments in BC sport history. With more than 27,000 artifacts representing 150 years of sporting accomplishments, there’s countless stories to explore and discover here. For more information, see bcsportshall.com.
Burnaby Village Museum – Burnaby
Step back in time to the Burnaby of the last century. Intended to be a recreation of the places, people, and life of the 1920s, this facility includes a variety of original buildings and artifacts moved to the museum site for preservation, and has been set up like a “village” complete with blacksmith, one room schoolhouse, post office, bank and much more. For more information, see www.burnabyvillagemuseum.ca/.
Anvil Centre – New Westminster
The Anvil Centre in the Royal City provides some one-stop shop for history and culture. Under its roof is the New Westminster Museum and Archives, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the Community Art Gallery, the New Media Art Gallery, and a community theatre. With a variety of exhibitions, events, celebrations and more, there’s always something happening at the Anvil. For more information, see anvilcentre.com/
Surrey Art Gallery – Surrey
Don’t want to head all the way downtown for some art and culture? Did you know that the second largest public art museum in the Metro Vancouver region is located in Surrey? Exhibitions and programs change quarterly and admission is free. The gallery focuses on all forms of contemporary art by local artists as well as national and international artists. With visiting artist talks, lectures, and hands-on art programs, there’s a variety to see and do here. For more information, see www.surrey.ca/arts-culture/surrey-art-gallery