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6 Must-See Museums in Vancouver and How to Visit

As British Columbia’s biggest city, Vancouver is stacked full of great museums.

The Vancouver skyline as seen from above
Hi, I'm Jen!

Vermont travel writer Jen Rose Smith covers adventure, remote places, and traditional cuisine from a home base in the Green Mountains. Her articles have appeared in National Geographic Adventure, American Way, Nexos, Condé Nast Traveler, Backpacker, AFAR, Rolling Stone, USA Today, and Outside Online.

With diverse history and a cutting-edge art scene, it’s no surprise that Vancouver is home to some world-class museums. These top Vancouver museums include the place to go nose-to-nose with a sea otter, learn about Canada’s First Nations, and more. Here’s how to get started.

 

1. Museum of Anthropology

The stylish exterior of the Museum of Anthropology in BC.
Outside the Museum of Anthropology.Foto: Xuanlu Wang / Shutterstock

For a fine collection of European ceramics.

First Nations art, history, and culture are the highlight of the magnificent Museum of Anthropology, on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver. That means everything from full-scale Haida houses to sculptures by artist Bill Reid—there’s also a fine collection of European ceramics.

How to Visit: Book a 1- or 2-day hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour of Vancouver, and make this museum one of your stops.

2. Vancouver Aquarium

Visitors line up outside Vancouver Aquarium in summer in BC.
Visitors head into Vancouver Aquarium.Foto: Stories In Light / Shutterstock

For sea creatures.

The stars of this family-friendly attraction are sharks, sea otters, and other creatures, and a location in Stanley Park means it’s easy to add to a day of exploring other Vancouver sights. It’s not just exhibits, either—a mix of stage shows, talks, feedings, and animal encounters make this an engaging place for all animal lovers.

How to Visit: Prebook skip-the-line tickets to avoid long waits at this popular attraction, which is an included stop on many hop-on hop-off tours of Vancouver.

3. Vancouver Art Gallery

Friends sit on the steps of Vancouver Art Gallery in BC.
Vancouver Art Gallery is a popular stop.Foto: DeymosHR / Shutterstock

For art lovers.

Among Canada’s largest art galleries, the Vancouver Art Gallery houses thousands of pieces in a downtown location. A permanent collection combines European masters with remarkable artwork from around British Columbia.

How to Visit: Prebook tickets to the Vancouver Art Gallery to secure your admission in advance; 30- and 45-minute tours are included with admission on selected days.

4. Science World

Science World on the water in downtown Vancouver at twilight.
Science World sits on the water in downtown Vancouver.Foto: Stock for you / Shutterstock

For natural wonders of the world.

Lots of hands-on activities draw kids into discovering science, but there’s plenty for adults as well. The Omnimax Theater stretches a staggering five stories high, and the permanent collection features dinosaur fossils, human body exhibits, and other natural wonders.

How to Visit: Book a 1- or 2-day hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour of Vancouver, and combine Science World with a stop at the nearby Olympic Village.

5. Bill Reid Gallery

Outside the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver in BC.
You can see First Nations art at Bill Reid Gallery.Foto: DanVancouver / Tripadvisor

For Indigenous pieces.

Haida artist Bill Reid’s work is displayed alongside a diverse collection of Northwest Coast Indigenous pieces in a downtown gallery that’s a must for art fans. Highlights include sculptures, jewelry, and prints in permanent exhibitions, as well as a creative lineup of visiting shows.

How to Visit: Book tickets to the gallery in advance, then combine the trip with nearby destinations, which include the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Seawall.

 

6. Museum of Vancouver

Exterior of the Museum of Vancouver and its famous crab statue.
Public art at the Museum of Vancouver.Foto: 4kclips / Shutterstock

For the story of Vancouver.

Follow the story of Vancouver from First Nations to today at the Museum of Vancouver, whose history galleries scroll through the decades with engaging exhibits. Special exhibits explore art, culture, and the city’s many diverse communities.

How to Visit: Prebook tickets to the Museum of Vancouver to secure your admission in advance; Vanier Park, where the museum is located, is an included stop on many hop-on hop-off tours of Vancouver.

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