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What to Expect at the Museum of Vancouver

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As we strolled through the Museum of Vancouver, we couldn’t help but chuckle at how this institution defies the typical museum experience. 

It’s not the usual static, dusty repository of history – instead,  we found a lively and engaging space that invites exploration!

Let us be your tour guides for today, so you’ll be well-prepared when you visit this interesting museum at your leisure.

What is the Museum of Vancouver known for?

The Museum of Vancouver is a civic history museum dedicated to showcasing Vancouver’s history and encouraging a deeper understanding of the city. It’s recognized as the oldest museum and the largest civic museum in Canada.

The museum’s collections encompass a wide range of artifacts, including those from the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations, historical items from around the world, like Asia, and objects related to modern Vancouver.

One of the well-known contributors to the collections is Mary Lipsett of the Lipsett Indian Museum who made a substantial donation of nearly 2000 First Nations and Oriental artifacts upon her retirement in 1949.

The museum has been around for over a century, and it has gone through quite a few transformations before it adopted its current name, Museum of Vancouver, in 2009.

Originally, the museum had a diverse and less focused approach to acquisition as it aimed to bring the world to Vancouverites. But it has since turned its goals inside out by shifting its focus on the City of Vancouver and showing it to the world.

In 1894, the Art, Historical, and Scientific Association of Vancouver (AHSA) founded the museum, and in just a few years after, in 1903, they agreed to put the collection under the control of the City of Vancouver.

Its first location was above the Carnegie Library at Main and Hastings. And there it stayed for more than 50 years.

Over those years, the museum embarked on various projects, including an attempt to reconstruct a First Nations Village in the 1920s, which resulted in the Totem Poles that now stand in Stanley Park. 

It also conducted excavations at the Great Marpole Midden in the 1920-30s, which in recent years have been showcased in an exhibition in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology and the Musqueam Indian Band.

In 1968, the museum moved to its current location. In 1977, it received a Category A cultural institution designation, further solidifying its importance to the province of British Columbia, until it announced its vision to focus on the City of Vancouver in 2008.

That “re-envisioning” garnered an award from the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) in 2010.

Where is the Museum of Vancouver?

Where is the Museum of Vancouver
Image by Lissandra Melo on Shutterstock

The Museum of Vancouver is situated at 1100 Chestnut Street. It sits at the south end of Vanier Park in the neighborhood of Kitsilano, along the southern shoreline of False Creek. 

Overall, the Museum of Vancouver is located in a beautiful area of Vancouver, with stunning views of the city skyline, the mountains, and the ocean. 

The museum shares its building with H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, so visitors can access both using the same foyer and entrance.

What to Expect at the Museum of Vancouver

Permanent Exhibitions

The history galleries at the Museum of Vancouver are sponsored by the City of Vancouver and are not going away anytime soon. If you’re not sure of what to check out in the museum, these could be an excellent starting point for exploring the city’s history.

In the 1900s–1920s History Gallery: “Gateway to the Pacific,” you’ll discover Vancouver’s “golden years” and the complex social and economic forces at play as house prices soared and the world war impacted the economy.

The 1930s – 1940s: “Boom, Bust, and War” gallery offers insights into the transformative impact of the world war, and the sprouting of factories and shipyards that have had a lasting impact on the area.

The 1950s: “The ‘50s Gallery” presents post-war Vancouver’s optimistic and evolving landscape, as seen in the vibrant nightlife, evolving transportation, and more presentations of modernity.

In the 1960s – 1970s: “You Say You Want A Revolution” gallery, you can explore the city’s role as a hub for counterculture movements, including the birth of Greenpeace.

Other Programs and Events

The Museum of Vancouver also keeps its engagement with the community up through its ongoing and diverse programming. 

Take the world premiere screening of “Ravishing Rags,” which could be a fantastic complement to the “Dressed for History” exhibition. You can find something equally interesting although entirely different, like a program on dyeing with fungi and lichens.

Right now, they’re offering a sash decorating workshop in celebration of LGBTQIA2S+ History Month and paying tribute to the not-for-profit Arts Club Theatre Company.

Things to Know about Museum of Vancouver

Fees: As of October 2023, these are the prices of tickets at the Museum of Vancouver:

AdultsSeniors, Students with ID, Youth (6-17 years old)Children (until 5 years old)Individuals self-identifying as Indigenous
PricesCAD 20CAD 15FreeFree

Details from Museum of Vancouver

You can enjoy special admissions if you have certain passes or memberships, such as the Cultural Access Pass (Canoo) or Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Membership. To see the full list, please refer to this page on their website.

If you’re more than 10 in a group, check out their group rates for self-guided museum visits and private on-site guided tours.

The most interesting way to get in is to go on the first Sunday of the month when they offer “Pay What You Can Sundays.”

Hours: From Sunday to Wednesday, the Museum of Vancouver is open from 10 AM to 5 PM. From Thursday to Saturday, closing time is extended until 8 PM.

Parking: When parking at the Museum of Vancouver, you have two options: you can use the MOV parking lot operated by EasyPark, or you can opt for street parking.

Accessibility: The Museum of Vancouver prioritizes accessibility for all visitors. The entrances and exits are wheelchair and scooter-friendly, as are the accessible washrooms, ramps, and elevators. 

The exhibitions can all be found on the main floor.

Best Time to Go to the Museum of Vancouver

The best time to go to the Museum of Vancouver depends on what exhibitions you plan to explore. This is of course assuming that you’re immersed in history.

For those interested in the permanent collections, you’re in luck – they are accessible year-round. However, if you have your eyes set on temporary exhibitions, it’s essential to check the calendar for specific dates and offerings.

Rainy days can also be a great opportunity to visit the Museum of Vancouver, as it provides a rewarding indoor activity when the weather outside is less than ideal. 

If you prefer a quieter experience with fewer crowds, timing your visit during off-peak hours or weekdays might be a good strategy.

For budget-conscious visitors, the best time to visit means when the museum offers special pricing, which is set every first Sunday of the month.

How to Get to the Museum of Vancouver

Car: The Museum of Vancouver is a quick 5-minute drive from downtown. From there, cross the Burrard Street heading south and then find your way to Cornwall Street and then Whyte Avenue. From there, you’ll have to turn left into MOV’s parking lot.

Bus: Take a #2 bus from downtown (say, Burrard Station @ Bay 1) and exit at WB Cornwall Ave @ Cypress Street. From there, the walk towards the Museum of Vancouver, toward the water, is 9 minutes.

Ferry: The nearest stop of False Creek Ferries to the Museum of Vancouver is the Maritime Museum. From the Maritime Museum, you can walk to the museum building.

Bike: There are bike racks in front of the building if you want to take a bike ride to the museum. You can check out the Mobi Bike Share @ Chesnut Street & McNicoli Avenue if you need to rent a bike. 

Walk: If you’re already on Granville Island or Kitsilano Beach, the Museum of Vancouver is just a 20-minute stroll along the ocean boardwalk.

Where to Stay near the Museum of Vancouver

The Parker Hotel Vancouver

Address: 1379 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2R5, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-688-7678
Pricing: $
Book Now

If you prefer to walk to the Museum of Vancouver from The Parker Hotel, you’ll get your steps in for the day with a 30-minute walking distance. If you want to take the bus instead, the nearest bus stop is only nine minutes away.

Either way, the location of The Parker Hotel is just the right distance to the MOV. After checking out the museum, you can easily explore the seawall and Robson Street, near the hotel.

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre

Address: 1000 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2R9, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-331-1000
Pricing: $$
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Another hotel that’s just within 30 minutes walking distance from MOV is the Sheraton Wall Centre. It’s a reliable option as many travelers put this accommodation high up their lists.

If you’re looking for spotless, seamless accommodation, you may be irked by some minor inconveniences. But overall, the hotel offers a wonderful ambiance and great service.

Sylvia Hotel

Address: 1154 Gilford St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2P6, Canada 
Phone: +1 877-681-9321
Pricing: $
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Now, if you want to stay somewhere near the waters, Sylvia Hotel is only a few meters to the English Bay Beach. As the sun sets, you can savor stunning views of the ocean from the comfort of the hotel’s seaside rooms.

It’s also close to Stanley Park, where you have a picnic, unwind by the seawall, or ride a bike around the seawall.

The Burrard

Address: 1100 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y7, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-681-2331
Pricing: $$
Book Now

Retro and modern have a unique blend in The Burrard’s design. If personality is on top of your checklist when looking for a place to stay, then this one has it.

While it may not boast the extravagant grandeur of some larger hotels, it more than makes up for it by providing the right amenities for a pleasant stay and keeping their rates reasonable.

The Sutton Place Hotel Vancouver

Address: 845 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2K6, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-682-5511
Pricing: $$$
Book Now

Another hotel right along Burrard Street, Sutton Place is known for its sophisticated vibes. Whether it’s the tastefully designed rooms or the refined atmosphere of Gerard Lounge, everything here speaks elegance.

Like with the other hotels in this area of the city, you’re within easy reach of everything when you stay here.

Sandman Suites Vancouver – Davie Street

Address: 1160 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1N1, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-681-7263
Pricing: $$
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Located on Davie St., it’s just a short drive or bus ride away from the Museum of Vancouver.

Recent renovations have jazzed up the guest experience with suites that boast separate bedrooms, handy kitchenette areas, and cozy sitting spaces. This hotel is an excellent choice for those who love top-notch amenities.

Where to Eat near the Museum of Vancouver


Address: 1809 1st Ave W, Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 5B8 Canada
Phone: +1 778-379-4052
Pricing: $$$

While some restaurants undergo changes after a Michelin recognition, here, the food and service maintain their exceptional quality.

That’s one of the things we definitely love about AnnaLena. Of course, aside from their Brick Bread and Seasonal Bison Short Ribs.

Their There

Address: 2042 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M9, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-736-8828
Pricing: $$

From the same team as AnnaLena, Their There keeps it simple with a coffee menu that mainly features classic espresso drinks. But in some ways, that can be a good thing considering how serious their coffee game is.

The mochi donuts are a delightful pairing with their coffee, but we wouldn’t blame you if you just wanted them on their own. And their lunch offerings are just as good it’s no wonder the place is always packed.

Beaucoup Bakery

Address: 2150 Fir St, Vancouver, BC V6J 3B5, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-732-4222
Pricing: $

The pastries at Beaucoup Bakery are truly a stunner. 

You can swing by and grab their Kouign Amann, Pain au Chocolate, or Pistachio croissant, or pre-order a Pistachio Raspberry Cake for your next gathering, and you’ll quickly understand that these treats are the real deal.

There’s a new flagship location at St Regis Hotel, if you ever find yourself near Dunsmuir St.

Ramen Danbo

Address: 1833 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M4, Canada
Phone: +1 778-379-8977
Pricing: $

The line outside of Ramen Danbo isn’t just a result of hype – their Fukuoka-style Kyushu Hakata Tonkotsu ramen is really that good.

They’ve got four delicious ramen variations on the menu, with prices ranging from CAD 11.95 to 18.45. If you’re new to it, the classic Tonkotsu is a fantastic choice to get your ramen journey underway.


Address: 2340 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1P1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-620-1564
Pricing: $

The cozy, dark wood decor at Raisu adds to the place’s authentic charm. It’s the perfect backdrop for the beautifully presented (and equally delicious) dishes like the sho ka do bento, omakase aburi, and sashimi platter.

Now, service might get a bit affected when the place is busy the place is and it’s true that the prices are on the higher side. But the special dishes make a compelling case for a return visit.

RV’s Butter Kitchen

Address: 1355 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1W7, Canada
Phone: +1 778-388-0545
Pricing: $

If you happen to be thinking of where to get good North Indian food, RV’s Butter Kitchen offers exactly that. Their tandoori chicken and curry dishes are fan favorites, and if you’re in a hurry, they can pack your lunch to go.

But be prepared for some spicy dishes. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Siegel’s Bagels

Address:  1883 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1C7, Canada
Phone: +1 604-737-8151
Pricing: $

Siegel’s Bagels, conveniently just a few steps from the MOV, specializes in fresh, chewy, and savory bagels. It’s the perfect place to grab a delicious rosemary and rock salt bagel before or after exploring the museum.

Bonus tip: Their meat-filled bagels, made with Montreal-sourced meat, are a must-try.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Planetarium Next Door

Visit the Planetarium Next Door
Image by H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, located in the same building as the MOV, is an immersive space science center offering planetarium shows, interactive exhibits, and hands-on displays about space exploration, the solar system, and the universe. 

The centerpiece of this space center is either the Planetarium Star Theatre or the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory. The theatre offers literally out-of-this-world journeys through films and the observatory provides a closer look at celestial wonders.

The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is one fantastic complement to your Museum of Vancouver visit, suitable for all ages.

Experience i-Exit Escape Room

Experience i-Exit Escape Room
Image by i Exit Vancouver

Just six minutes by car mostly along Burrard St. toward Granville St. and you’ll find yourself at i-Exit Vancouver. If you’re exploring the museum with a group of friends, consider switching things up with the escape rooms at i-Exit.

With a team of up to six players, you have a variety of themes to choose from, including the “Pirates on the Rocks” (quite easy) and “The Matrix” (challenging…very much so).

Plus, it’s reassuring to know that the hosts at i-Exit are dedicated to their escape room craft. So, whether they surprise you with new themes or stick with the classics, you’re in for an all-around fantastic experience in any room you select.

Take a Photo at The Drop

Take a Photo at The Drop
Image by Rafal Michal Gadomski on Shutterstock

The Drop is one of Vancouver’s iconic public art installations. 

It’s a gigantic raindrop sculpture made of steel, and standing tall at 65 feet along the waterfront in the Coal Harbour neighborhood.

It’s such an interesting addition to the area, with its pointed end towering and looking like a sailing ship’s figurehead. With its fun appearance but deep links with the waters around, capturing a photo to remember this art is not a bad idea at all.

From the MOV, you’ll need 10 minutes by car to reach this attraction. The Bon Voyage Plaza, in front of which stands The Drop, can be found at the end of Burrard Street, so most of the ride is just following that one straight line.

Relax at Vanier Park

Relax at Vanier Park
Image by on Adobe Stock

Vanier Park offers plenty of outdoor space for relaxing. 

Coming from the museum, you only need to walk for a minute on Chestnut Street and you can already have stunning views of the city skyline, the mountains, and the ocean.

You can simply take a seat and appreciate the scenery, enjoy a casual stroll along the waterfront to continue your Vancouver conversations from the museum, or have a relaxing picnic on the grass.

Vanier Park is also a favored spot for various events, including the annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. It’s typically held from June to September, so if your visit coincides with these months, then you may have the chance to catch a performance during your visit.

Watch Art Shows at Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre

Watch Art Shows at Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
Image by Alena Charykova on Shutterstock

The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, located a short distance from the Museum of Vancouver, offers a fantastic complementary experience for museum visitors.

This multi-purpose facility, set in a beautifully restored heritage building, is a hub for cultural, recreational, and community activities. Here, you can explore fitness classes to art exhibitions, which showcase the work of local and emerging artists.

It’s also a great destination for learning about the history of rail transportation in the region, which of course, you had a glimpse of in the MOV.

If you have a child in tow, or a history or train enthusiast, really, hopping abroad a restored Engine 374 could be a perfect way to round out your museum day.

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