Our History

Welcome to the Nanaimo Museum!

The Nanaimo Museum is located in downtown Nanaimo on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. It is a dynamic community facility offering diverse interpretive programming encouraging visitors to “Make a Discovery” while exploring the history and heritage of our area. The  museum entered a new era in 2008. Nanaimo’s history was given new life with the construction of our facility in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, created with the vision statement: The Nanaimo Museum will enhance cultural quality of life, anchor our community and enlighten visitors while nurturing the flow of inspiration through interactive presentation of stories and objects spanning Nanaimo’s history.

Today, the museum offers award winning exhibits, popular meeting and reception spaces and a destination Gift Shop. The expanded space has allowed the museum to bring top ranked feature exhibits to our community from the Canadian History Museum, the National Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery to name a few.

Nanaimo & District Museum Society

The Nanaimo & District Museum Society celebrated 50 years (incorporated April 2, 1964) in April 2014. The Society operates the Nanaimo Museum and the Bastion with a mission  to engage the community and visitors in meaningful experiences relating to the cultural heritage of what is now the City of Nanaimo and surrounding district (i.e. School District #68), as well as to provide a learning environment through which the public can experience links between the past, present and future.

Our mandate includes:
•    Expanding collections while continuing to ensure they are relevant, well researched and accessible
•    Engage as many “communities” as possible through exhibits, events and programs
•    Make exhibitions stimulating, involving, and related to Nanaimo’s unique history and development
•    Use the expanded facility to the best advantage to meet our goals.

The museum has always placed a positive and accessible visitor experience at the forefront of operations. We strive to be welcoming and friendly with informed volunteers and to ensure programming and exhibits are informative for residents and visitors alike. We encourage diversity and are a Safe Harbour designated facility. Our First Nations collection is held in trust for the Snunéymuxw First Nation with whom we work closely to interpret their story. Geraldine Manson, Snuneymuxw First Nation Elder in Residence at VIU, began her involvement with the museum in 1991 during a dig at the St’lilup village site.