Thinking about dropping in to the Royal Alberta Museum? Here’s what you need to know

The Royal Alberta Museum opened this week to praise and a steady stream of visitors. The museum offered 30,000 free tickets online with space for another 10,000 people who can just show up.

Still interested in going? We speak with Chris Robinson, executive director of the Royal Alberta Museum.

How is the opening weekend going?

“I think it is going so well. Museums are meant for the public, for visitors, and it is so nice to see them come through the doors now.”

In the first two days, 11,000 people came through the doors. While most had free advance tickets, 3,000 were walk-ups. 

How crowded is the museum?

“The space has been designed to accommodate a lot of visitors,” says Robinson, who admits the walk-up line will likely grow during the weekend.

CBC’s Adrienne Lamb takes a tour of the new Royal Alberta Museum by the numbers. 1:09

Can I come in to look around without touring the museum?

If you don’t have a ticket or are unwilling to wait in line, you can enter the building to tour the gift shop, cafe and take a selfie in the lobby. You can also go upstairs into the museum’s new Manitou Stone Gallery, showcasing a  meteorite believed to be about 4.5 billion years old which is sacred to Indigenous peoples in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

If I have a ticket, how early should I arrive?

“I would suggest people coming 15 minutes prior to their timed ticket entry,” he says. Both doors will be open and greeters will be there to check tickets and direct visitors.

Do ticket holders have to leave by a certain time?

“We aren’t kicking anybody out,” Robinson says. “We don’t require you be out for a certain time. We will monitor the number of peoples in the building and so if there are people who are here for longer visits, and I hope they are, we just won’t let other walk-ins until we’ve got the capacity.”

The gift shop is stocked with stuffed mammoths. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

What is the capacity?

About 3,000 visitors at any time.

If you only have one hour, how do you get the most of your visit?

Robinson suggests starting in the lobby and spending a minute with the bronze mammoths. Next, visit the human history gallery on the main floor.

“People don’t need to read all the texts in front of them,” he says. “The objects are intended, in many places, to speak for themselves, so you could take a pretty rapid tour through the history gallery.”

Then head upstairs to the natural history gallery.

“The gems and mineral gallery — it sparkles. The wildlife dioramas. And you cannot miss the giant mammoth when you go into the history gallery.”

Where are the bottlenecks?

It’s very busy at the children’s gallery and the bug gallery.  “Those are really popular. There have been some line-ups getting into those spaces,” Robinson says.

You can see more from the new Royal Alberta Museum on this week’s Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and holiday Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.

A skeleton of a mammoth towers over the ice age exhibit. (CBC)

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