There are four museums operated by the Kelowna Museums Society, a non-profit organization that promotes a greater interest and awareness of the natural, cultural, agricultural, and military heritages of the Okanagan region. Located downtown in the heart of Kelowna’s Cultural District, the Kelowna Museums offer a wide selection of exhibitions, educational and public programs, and special events.
The four Kelowna Museums are: the Okanagan Heritage Museum, the BC Orchard Industry Museum, the BC Wine Museum & VQA Wine Shop, and the Okanagan Military Museum. Each museum acts on the community’s behalf to collect, preserve, interpret, and display items of regional historical significance.
You can visit all four museums in a walking tour starting at the corner of Ellis Street and Queensway Avenue at the Okanagan Heritage Museum. This museum documents the cultural and natural histories of the Okanagan, from the First Nation inhabitants to the first European settlers and onwards. Opening January 21, 2010 is a new exhibition called Is There Anybody Out There which looks at the history of amateur radio communication in the Okanagan. Is Anybody Out There runs until July 3 and is open Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is by donation.
Next, head over to the Okanagan Military Museum, located inside the Memorial Arena on the corner of Ellis and Doyle. This museum focuses on the preservation and awareness of Okanagan military heritage and houses a significant collection of small arms, uniforms, insignia, and equipment including artefacts from every major war of the twentieth century. This museum is dedicated to the Okanagan men and women who have served and to Canada’s commitment to peace and remembrance.
Your next stop is the historic Laurel Packinghouse, Kelowna’s first designated heritage building, located on the corner of Ellis and Cawston. The Laurel Packinghouse was built over the winter of 1917/ 1918 of brick made from locally sourced clay. In its heyday, the Laurel Packinghouse was one of many fruit packinghouses that packed and shipped Okanagan tree fruits to markets across Canada and the world. Today, it is home to the BC Orchard Industry Museum and the BC Wine Museum & VQA Wine Shop.
The BC Orchard Industry Museum explores the Okanagan’s roots in the orchard industry through engaging exhibits on irrigation, picking, packing, and more. Located inside the Laurel Packinghouse, there is still the aroma of apples in the air from the days when the packing lines operated.
Finish your walking tour with a wine tasting at the BC Wine Museum & VQA Wine Shop where the knowledgeable staff can help you select the perfect wine from over 400 listings of British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance wines. The BC Wine Museum is open seven days a week, offers free daily wine tastings, and is the only museum with a license to sell alcohol. All wine purchases from the BC Wine Museum directly support the wineries and the museum, so you know that your purchase is staying local and supporting local. Stop in for the Neighbourhood Nosh, a complimentary wine tasting the first Thursday of every month. Nosh events feature a selection of award winning wines and samples of local artisan foods.
There is so much to learn about Kelowna and the Okanagan and about the people and events that have shaped our community. The Kelowna Museums encourage you to explore and discover something new. Admission to all four museums is by donation and your donation supports education programming and exhibit development. To learn more about the Kelowna Museums please visit us online at www.KelownaMuseums.ca.
To ask about customized tours and to book a guided group tour, please call 250-868-4836.