Congratulations to the Royal Alberta Museum

The new Royal Alberta Museum is opening today! Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen. We are very excited to explore the new building and galleries, and enjoy the museum for many years to come.

New Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton. Credit: Flickr/Government of Alberta.

In honour of the new museum building opening, our post today looks back at the beginning, and original opening, of the Provincial Museum of Alberta (later renamed Royal Alberta Museum) 51 years ago.

The former Royal Alberta Museum building was built as the Provincial Museum and Archives of Alberta in 1967. It was the culmination of a decades long effort to build a provincial museum in Edmonton. Funding came through the Government of Canada’s “Confederation Centennial Memorial Program”, which saw a substantial, jointly funded construction project in Read more

Ice Age Fossils and Industry

The Quaternary Palaeontology program at the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) works with stakeholders in the sand & gravel industry to recover and preserve the Ice Age fossil record of the province. As the source of thousands of the fossil specimens housed in our collections, the sand & gravel industry provides the basis for significant scientific collections, research, outreach, and exhibits. The working relationship of the RAM and the sand & gravel industry originates in the late 1980s and 1990s, when museum staff began active efforts to engage companies and their staff, most notably in gravel pits in the Edmonton area. Those efforts manifested in a number of formal (e.g., regulatory processes) and less formal ways (highlighted here), all with the intent of maximizing the recovery of fossil remains while minimizing impacts to industry.

Ice Age horse metapodials (foot bones) from Edmonton-area gravel pits. These are in the collections at the Royal Alberta Museum.

Engaging Industry

Shortly after arriving at the Royal Alberta Museum in 2008, I set up a meeting with Lafarge, a company with considerable sand & gravel interests. My intent was to rekindle the working relationship with Lafarge that was established by my predecessor at the museum. As a naïve scientist, I anticipated a low-key conversation regarding fossils in gravel pits. I walked into a meeting with seven people from Lafarge, including legal, and I quickly realized that from the company’s Read more

Building skills: Using seeds and shells to learn about Alberta’s ancient environments

How do we know about past environments?

Historic and precontact archaeological and palaeoenvironmental sites from across Alberta tell us much about people and past environments. But how can we learn the details about that environment? This blog post will tell you how we use environmental indicators, especially macrofossils, to reconstruct what conditions were like at sites in the past.

It may seem reasonable to assume that the environment when an archaeological site was inhabited by people was generally the same as it is now, and this is sometimes the case. However, the archaeological record in Alberta goes back at least 13,000 years , to the end of the last major glaciation and its transition to our present epoch (the Holocene). Given this long and varied history, it’s obvious some considerable changes have occurred. Read more