Crowd of people walking around the mainfloor lobby of the Royal Alberta Museum

Downtown Museums You Don’t Want to Miss

Expand your horizons at these Downtown museums, ranging from the most prestigious to the lesser-known

The Royal Alberta Museum

The Royal Alberta Museum is a bright, airy and open space that has more than 400,000 square feet worth of exhibits to see. The best place to start your visit is in the Human History Hall which celebrates the innovation, culture and resilience of Indigenous people. The kids will love the interactive play area, and then, to test your squeamishness, visit the famous Bug Room. Look for cockroaches longer than your finger, predatory beetles and the goliath bird-eating spider, a purple monster larger than your hand that will be stuff of your nightmares. Check out the nature dioramas in the second floor, along with everyone’s favourite — fossils and dinosaur bones. But there is whimsy to the museum, too — as it celebrates not only Alberta’s historical landmarks, but preserves some items for the sake of nostalgia, from pop cans to Oilers memorabilia to items that celebrate Albertans’ love of the pick-up truck. 9810 103A Avenue

Neon Sign Museum

Want to feel like you’re in Times Square? On the side of the east wall of the Telus building, you’ll see at least 20 neon signs that have been lovingly refurbished and glow as brightly as the night they were first installed. The Neon Sign Museum is sure to remind you of shops and brands long gone, such as Mike’s Newsstand and the Movie Studio. But, there are also a handful that make visitors reflect on how the city has handled social issues over the decade. The interpretative plaque for the Georgia Baths sign relates stories of gay men being targeted by the police. 104 Street and 104 Avenue

McKay Avenue School

Edmonton’s first public school, McKay Avenue School, was a one-room schoolhouse opened in 1881. That building is preserved on the site of what is now the Edmonton Public School Archives and Museum in McKay Avenue School. The museum houses school bells, exercise books, scientific equipment, globes and other school artifacts of days gone by. McKay Avenue School also housed the initial working sessions of the legislature in 1906 and 1907. Head to the second floor to see a recreated legislature. History buffs can search the archives. Last summer the site became home to a much-needed downtown playground. 10425 99 Avenue