Welcome to RAM! We opened the doors to our new location in downtown Edmonton on October 3, 2018 with six days of free admission attended by more than 41,000 visitors.
Our new museum is more than just a thoughtful, beautifully designed space; it's an authentic reflection of where Alberta is today and will be in the decades to come. It represents the new energy of Alberta, the diversity of our culture and tells our story with a new boldness and confidence. It's a place where you'll find 5.1 million uniquely Albertan stories just waiting to be told.
Read on to see how this incredible building came to be.
The Royal Alberta Museum is a place where you'll find a history of Alberta you won't find anywhere else. The new building offers museum staff more space and opportunity to create a visitor experience that invites curiosity, encourages inclusivity, and grows understanding.
The new museum features expansive Natural and Human History Halls chronicling the history of Alberta's people, animals, and landscapes, an expanded Bug Gallery with visible hatchery, and a Children's Gallery specifically designed for hands-on learning through play. The new galleries are built with an object-first approach, meaning you will be better able to connect and engage with each artifact and specimen on display.
Indigenous stories are interwoven throughout all six galleries within the Human History Hall, one of which is dedicated specifically to contemporary First Nations and Métis narratives.
Architecture and Design
Located in the heart of Edmonton's vibrant downtown Arts District on Treaty 6 territory, the museum design represents the unique aspects of the city and the province.
The design has an engaging sense of place and responds to the architecture and spirit of Edmonton and Alberta. It features a continuous narrative, a dialogue between inside and out, between the city, the building, and nature. The Royal Alberta Museum is bright, warm, and welcoming, inviting visitors to come in and discover Alberta in a dynamic new way.
- At 419,000 square feet—twice the size of the former museum—the Royal Alberta Museum is the largest museum in western Canada.
- More than 18,000 m3 of concrete was used to construct the Royal Alberta Museum. That's enough to fill more than seven Olympic sized swimming pools!
- Over 2,500 metric tons of steel reinforcement was cast into the concrete. That's heavier than 500 elephants!
- The reinforced concrete Feature Staircase acts as the focal point of the entrance lobby. Construction workers and designers worked around the clock for 25 weeks to realize the vision of this amazing staircase.
- There are 9,099 plumbing pipes, 6,504 hydronic pipes, and 9,819 ducts, totaling a length of nearly 16 km. That's almost four times the distance between the old museum and the new museum.
- Total supply air in the museum is 142,557 litres per second (302,078 cubic feet per minute). This is equivalent to about 150 residential furnaces. That's a lot of wind!
- Some of the largest ducts are located in the museum's basement. One of the largest is 4.5 metres wide by 1.2 metre high. You could fit an Audi R8 in that—sideways!
- Indiana limestone. This is something we proudly have in common with New York. The limestone that adorns both the interior and exterior was pulled from the same quarry as stones used in the Empire State Building in the United States.
- The interior detailing reinforces that you are in a museum within every space of the building, not just the galleries. Display cases are even located in washroom entries!
The 2011 competition for a design-builder generated high international interest, including submissions from two Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architects. The project was awarded to DIALOG, as part of a design build team with Ledcor and Lundholm Associates, for their design that elevates the experience of both visitors and staff, and incorporates the rich history of the museum's site.
DIALOG is an award-winning design team of architects, engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects. Both DIALOG and Ledcor have offices across North America, but it was fitting that the majority of designers and builders of the new museum were Albertans. Learn more about the building's design from DIALOG's website.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) were contracted to design both the Human History and Natural History galleries as well as exhibits for the museum's main foyer. RAA is based in New York and has an international reputation for delivering major museum projects. The team that RAA put together for the RAM project has had extensive experience designing Human History and Indigenous Peoples content.
Lee H. Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership were contracted to design both the Children's Gallery and the Bug Gallery. Kubik did the fabrication work.
History of Location
The new museum is located at 9810 103A Ave NW, Edmonton, on the grounds previously occupied by a Canada Post office and distribution centre. We've incorporated many elements of the former post office into our building, including:
- Preserving the stunning Ernestine Tahedl mosaic murals, commissioned by the federal government in 1966 for the post office, on the façade of the Royal Alberta Museum building, which also happens to be in their original location.
- Repurposing three decorative screens that hung above the post office tellers into art located throughout the museum.
- Hanging the iconic post office clock on the museum's south-west façade, in approximately the same location it previously occupied.
- Reclaiming unique terrazzo flooring and Tyndall limestone panels that were from the post office and are now revived in the outdoor courtyard of the museum's outdoor café.
The museum also pays homage to the historic streets that used to run through the space the building now occupies. The two outdoor courtyards, named Fraser Courtyard and Isabella Courtyard, reference the historic Fraser Avenue and Isabella Street.
History of the New Museum Project
April 7, 2011 — New museum announcement
Former Premier Ed Stelmach announced that a new Royal Alberta Museum would be built in downtown Edmonton. An international design-build competition was launched, which attracted international interest, including submissions from two Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architects.
September 14, 2011 — Design-build Competition Winner Announcement
The new Royal Alberta Museum project was awarded to a local team, Ledcor Design Build (Alberta), which comprises the builder, Ledcor, and the architectural firm, DIALOG (Alberta). An expert review panel, which included architectural and museum industry professionals, evaluated the proposals based on design, ability to deliver the project, and the best value for the budget.
February 7, 2014 — Construction Begins
Construction begins on the new Royal Alberta Museum building. An Indigenous blessing took place prior to the start of construction of the new Royal Alberta Museum.
As the new RAM site is within the territory of Treaty 6 and the museum is home to extensive Indigenous collections, an Indigenous blessing was an appropriate component. Indigenous Elder Francis Alexis, a Historian with the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and a highly respected ceremonialist, offered the blessing.
December 7, 2015 — RAM Glenora Galleries Close
After 48 years in Glenora, the Royal Alberta Museum officially closes its doors in preparation for its mammoth-sized move to downtown Edmonton.
Nearly 36,000 people came out to visit our Glenora galleries one last time and take part in our 48-hour closing party on December 4-6. The weekend-long celebration invited all Albertans to say goodbye and share their museum memories in order to send off the building that has encapsulated Alberta's history for nearly five decades.
August 2016 — Building Construction Complete
Construction of the new museum reaches completion. We celebrated this major milestone on August 16, 2016 with a ceremonial oak tree planting at the downtown building.
Museum staff begin the massive job of moving the more than five million objects in our collection to downtown and preparing the exhibitions in the new building.
September 12, 2018
We announced the new museum will open to the public for the first time on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018! We also revealed a new website and logo to the world.
October 3, 2018
We opened the doors to the brand-new Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton with six days of free admission attended by more than 41,000 visitors.
New Museum Media Coverage
- Museum celebrates mammoth first year in new home - October 3, 2019
- New Royal Alberta Museum officially open - October 3, 2018
- Royal Alberta Museum accessible to everyone - October 1, 2018
- Royal Alberta Museum honours Indigenous stories - September 26, 2018
- More tickets to be released online for RAM opening - September 13, 2018
- Royal Alberta Museum ready to explore Oct. 3 - September 12, 2018
- Royal Alberta Museum reaches major construction milestone - August 16, 2016
- Nearly 36,000 bid farewell to Royal Alberta Museum - December 7, 2015
- Visit the Royal Alberta Museum before its treasures are packed - June 8, 2015
- Albertans invited to share favourite memories of museum - Sept 23, 2015
- Post office mosaics to be preserved and incorporated into the new Royal Alberta Museum - October 15, 2012
- Winning design unveiled for new Royal Alberta Museum - September 14, 2011
- Four designs submitted for new Royal Alberta Museum - August 18, 2011
- New Royal Alberta Museum advances to the next stage - July 4, 2011
- Search begins for designers and builders of the new Royal Alberta Museum - June 6, 2011
- New Royal Alberta Museum to mirror Alberta's past, present, and future - April 7, 2011