Mammoths Giant of the Ice Age at the Royal British Columbia Museum. June 3-December 31. 2016

Mammoths Giant of the Ice Age at the Royal British Columbia Museum. June 3-December 31, 2016.

I still remember my first visit to see Woolly, the mammoth at the Royal BC Museum—the year was 1968 and the new building at the corner of Belleville and Government had just opened.  Everyone was in awe—what a difference from the antique display cases in the basement of the Legislative Buildings. Over the years, I returned many times, always finding a new treasure or discovery.  Then I had the pleasure of introducing my children to the nooks and crannies of the exhibit spaces. On many a grey Sunday afternoon the cry “let’s go see the mammoth” lead to hours of fun visiting known favourites and visiting displays.  Now, our grandson is almost four, and visits have once again become a regular occurrence.

My story is repeated thousands of times over by residents of the capital region, and visitors to Victoria.  Woolly is a star!  And now—he has company.

June 3rd 2016 the Royal BC Museum, in collaboration with The Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) and the Shemanovskyi Yamal-Nenets District Museum and Exhibition Complex presents Mammoths, Giants of the Ice Age.  I was invited to a media preview.

Mammoths sign June 2016Museum CEO Jack Lohman emphasizes something that cannot be repeated enough—our museum is world-renowned and recognized for the quality of the work and scholarship of the many people employed within its precincts.  Cutting-edge and current research is conducted regularly—some of it reflected in the updated Natural History gallery where new interactive displays retell BC’s own Ice Age history.

This high regard among the world’s scientific and museum communities leads to interesting collaborations.  Mammoths, Giants of the Ice Age is one example. The main exhibit comes from the Field Museum of Natural History, where it debuted in 2010.

Full of engaging elements suitable for people of all ages—including small children—with hundreds of fossils and astonishing full-size replicas, backed with an almost symphonic sound track, and undergirded by solid science, Mammoths, Giants of the Ice Age is sure to capture the imagination of every visitor.

Mammoths life size replicas June 2016Pride of place is given to Luyba, a 40,000 year-old, completely intact baby woolly mammoth, discovered in 2007 by reindeer herders, members of the indigenous Nenets people of the Yumal Peninsula in Russia. Miraculously “pickled” by bacteria, Luyba (“love” in Russian and the name of the herder’s wife) is a sight to behold, upright and bathed in blue light.

Lyuba Mammoths Giants of the Ice AgeLyuba’s trunk collapsed when she died. Scientists theorize that the baby mammoth was trapped in silt and eventually suffocated. Credit: © International Mammoth Committee / Francis Latreille (used with permission)

Mammoths Cave June 2016I was particularly impressed with the many “please touch” signs throughout, by the exhibits at child-height, the many short-length videos that expand on a topic, the interesting specimens and the massive full-size replicas of mammoth, big cat and bear that dwarf museum-goers.  My particular favourite is the cave—where, entering under the arches, visitors are taken back to a time when hunters conjured the spirit of the animals they were about to hunt, and drew pictures on the walls.  It’s magical.

Mammoths please touch June 2016Small children will love to try out the feats of strength and dexterity—“can you use your trunk to pick up dinner?” asks one display, while another features a bundle weighing 500 lbs they can try to lift.

*unless otherwise noted, all photos are my own.

Mammoths, Giants of the Ice Age runs June 3-December 31, 2016.
Admission is included with the museum entrance fee ($17-24 including tax).

In addition to the exhibit, companion activities include the Camp Mammoth summer camp and Mammoth Mornings (designed for 5 and 6 year olds)– at the museum–, and the Mammoths in British Columbia summer program for kids at the Greater Victoria Public Library.  In the fall look for a return of Wonder Sundays (with a mammoth theme) every week, and the museum sleepover with Night at the Museum-Mammoths September 24.  Field trips to significant Ice Age sites around the region are also planned for the fall.

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