2017 Annual Report: Making Connections

In this annual report, I emphasize the Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s (BBM) efforts to extend our reach and make connections in celebrating biodiversity and biodiversity research. When speaking of “making connections,” the term is often used to refer to efforts to “engage with a community,” an expression that has been criticized as often being simply a marketing ploy rather than a sincere effort to fulfill the mission of a museum. In an interesting blog written by Nina Simon, much of the effort at “connecting with a community” was likened to museum folks running around with “a heat-seeking metal detector on the hunt for a miscellaneous batch of folks” who could be stunned “into connection.” Ouch!

Simon then outlines several key efforts that should underline attempts at connecting with the diverse museum-going, and in our case, biodiversity community. I read on with some trepidation about how the BBM would fare when evaluating our efforts against Simon’s suggestions. I am, however, very pleased to report that the work of folks at the BBM seems to hit all or most of the key aspects of making the BBM more than just a “third place” (home and work being places one and two). For instance, our policy of free entrance to students, faculty, and staff at UBC and our efforts at encouraging diverse visitors with reduced rates hits the “Be free, nearly free, often free, or free to locals” tip. Second, our surveys of visitors have helped us to define who we attract and where we could grow, and hit the “Pick a community (or two)” suggestion. Our Nocturnal program (when the museum is open late one Thursday of the month and features a special event such as the popular “Hops” night) is a good example of Simon’s tip to “Be open at times when your community is likely to come”­ — a move that increases the chances of a BBM visit being part of “evening recreational time.” Importantly, the BBM curatorial staff is very active in meeting with visitors, either by giving tours, workshops, or talks, which Simon suggested as a way to “Make time for staff to hang out with visitors.” Finally, our “Sneak-a-peek” events for members is a good example of Simon’s plea to find ways to “Appreciate regulars.” The BBM’s work at making connections also included receipt of three dinosaur “trackways,” reproduced in cast form by the Peace River Palaeontology Research Centre (PRPRC) in north-central British Columbia. These trackways, when complete, will help connect visitors with life forms that existed between 90 and 140 million years ago, as well as connecting the work of two institutions (the BBM and the PRPRC) in diverse areas of British Columbia. Finally, we at the BBM are very pleased with the success of the Beaty Box program (see the Education and Outreach report) which has been very successful at connecting our specimens and biodiversity science with children in schools across the Lower Mainland. Clearly, the BBM is making connections across diverse communities.

In closing, I appreciate all the visitors who chose to make the BBM part of their day this past year. Their visits benefited from all the work of our dedicated volunteers (over 160!), work-learn students, staff and faculty, and our donors. I appreciate and marvel at your commitment to the BBM. Of course, and on behalf of all at the BBM, the positive experiences of visiting and working at the BBM would not be possible without the tremendous support that we receive from all those at the Faculty of Science, led by our Dean, Dr. Simon Peacock. Our work is also aided greatly by Drs. Lacey Samuels and Sean Graham (former and current Heads, respectively, Department of Botany), and Bob Shadwick (Head, Department of Zoology). Thank you for that support.

Download the 2016-2017 Beaty Biodiversity Museum Annual Report (PDF).

Spring Break 2017

March 11 – March 26
Spring Break

During Spring Break, join the Beaty Biodiversity Museum every day at 12:00 pm for a different hands-on activity, brought to you by volunteers, staff, curators, and special guests! Meet new friends while exploring different aspects of the biodiversity around us. From identifying incredible insects, to art, games, crafts, and hands-on activities, you’ll be a biodiversity pro in no time.

All activities are open to all ages and are included with membership or admission on a drop-in basis, unless otherwise noted. Children under the age of 13 must have adult supervision in the museum at all times. Please call us for more information at 604-827-4955; press 0 to connect to staff.

Are you offering a spring break camp? Check out our children’s program options for private, hands-on, biodiversity experiences suitable for your group

Meet under the whale at 12:00 pm unless otherwise noted. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum reserves the right to change or modify programming as needed. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is closed on Mondays and statutory holidays.

Saturday, March 11: Digestive Detectives | 12:00 pm

It is all about owls today! Learn about an owl’s diet by dissecting an owl pellet, touch different owl specimens, and make an owl craft to take home.

Sunday, March 12: DNA Extraction | 12:00 pm

Curious about DNA? Come learn all about the genetic code inside all living things. Participate in a DNA extraction and make a bracelet with your unique sequence.

Monday, March 13: museum closed, no session

Tuesday, March 14: Backyard Birds | 12:00 pm

There are so many different looking and sounding birds found right here in the lower mainland. We will train our eyes and ears to detect who these feathered friends are on your next walk around your neighbourhood!

Wednesday, March 15: Seed Bombs | 12:00 pm

Get the garden ball rolling with a burst of biodiversity. Make your own seed bomb and take it home!

Thursday, March 16: Window into Biodiversity | 12:00 pm

Can you imagine being under the sea peering through the portal of your submarine? Or do you picture yourself on dry land looking at lions through the window of a jeep? Whatever your favourite ecosystem, this activity gives you the opportunity to craft your own ‘window into biodiversity’ to look through and take home.


Friday, March 17: Creative Camouflage | 12:00 pm

Get up close with some of the craftiest creatures in our Marine Invertebrate collection and create a take-home craft that mimics their camouflage abilities.

Saturday, March 18: Puppeteering Workshop | 12:00 pm

Do you love performing, puppets, and crafts? Learn to puppeteer with animal puppets and a fun pocket puppet craft. If you have your own biodiversity puppets, you are welcome to bring them along. All ages are welcome. Arrive right at noon if you would like to build a pocket puppet.

Sunday, March 19: Investigating Sea Shells | 12:00 pm

Observe a variety of sea shells with your eyes; and explore them with touch. Do you see what you feel?

Monday, March 20: museum closed, no session

Tuesday, March 21: Open Studio | 12:00 pm

Get inspired to draw from amazing museum specimens with the help of Derek Tan, our Digital Media Specialist and the illustrator behind many exhibits in the museum. Art supplies will be available; feel free to bring your sketchbook.

Wednesday, March 22: Earth Science | 12:00 pm

Join our friends from the Pacific Museum of Earth to get hands on and learn more about the wonders of Planet Earth! After the activity, you are welcome to visit them by donation, just across Main Mall.

Thursday, March 23: Pressing Plants | 12:00 pm

If preserved well, plant specimens can last hundreds of years in a museum. But how is this done? Learn how to collect responsibly, press plants, and label them with Linda Jennings, the Herbarium’s Assistant Curator of Vascular Plants & Algae.

This activity takes place in the Niche Café and outside – please dress accordingly!

Friday, March 24: Pond Poke | 12:00 pm

Join our Entomological Curator, Karen Needham, for a springtime pond poke! Peer beneath the water’s surface and discover the fascinating creatures living in the Beaty Museum’s water features.

This activity takes place outside – please dress accordingly!

Saturday, March 25: Sea | 10:30 am – 1:00 pm

Today we will peer beneath the ocean’s surface and discover the fascinating creatures and formations that make up life under the sea. Find stations throughout the museum between 10:30 am – 1:00 pm!

Sunday, March 26: Flower Power | 12:00 pm

Flowers are amazing and enticing structures. Dissect a flower, learn the names of the parts and how they function, and get to take home your work. Use a microscope to examine the legs of a bee, and learn about how different flowers get pollen onto insects.

This activity takes place in the Niche Café.

October is Mushroom Month!

Fall is here and that means the start of mushroom season! We have lots of events this month for all you fungi lovers:

Wild Mushrooms are Way Cool because . . .
Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 pm

  • Explore the science, scientists, and scenery of the wild mycorrhizal mushrooms at this Way Cool lecture.

Hunt for the FUN(gi) Facts
All month across campus | Ends at 5:00 pm on October 31

  • Capture the most FUN(gi) Facts and share them on Instagram with the tag #beatymushroomhunt. Whoever shares the most Facts will win a Four Mushroom Pizza from Pie R Squared!

Guided Mushroom Walk
Saturday, October 29 | 1:00 pm

  • Join the Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s Fungi Curator Mary Berbee to learn more about how to identify different mushroom types and where to look for them.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay up to date with what’s happening at the museum.

Ecosystems in Play Opens September 17


Ecosystems in Play: Exploring Biodiversity Through Gaming

Vancouver, BC – Step inside the card game Phylo and learn how species are connected through the food chain and their environment. Events like habitat loss, oil spills, and climate change will be explored to see how they have damaging effects on an ecosystem, and what we can do to protect them.

Featuring works from seven artists, the exhibition continues the crowed-sourced history of Phylo and gives young visitors a chance to draw or colour their own playing cards. Think you know enough about ecosystems? Grab a friend and try your hand at Phylo by building your own web of life in the game.

Find more information on Ecosystems in Play.

The university community and the media are invited to attend the opening of Ecosystems in Play
Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Beaty Biodiversity Museum, 2212 Main Mall, Vancouver

About Phylo
What do you do when kids today know more about Pokémon characters than they do about real life creatures? For UBC geneticist and science educator, David Ng, the solution was to create a crowd-sourced game that was fun and familiar. With the aim of increasing children’s ecological literacy he created Phylo – a game that lets you collect, trade, and play with cards based on real-life organisms. In the game, players build an ecosystem by matching species cards by terrain, climate, and food chain. Progress can be halted with devastating results by playing event cards like habitat loss, or climate change that remove species and alter the delicate web of life.

About David Ng
David Ng is a geneticist, science educator, science literacy academic, part time writer, and faculty based at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia.

About the Beaty Biodiversity Museum
Dubbed the “Best Collection of Weird Things in Drawers,” the Beaty Biodiversity Museum exhibits more than 2 million specimens divided among six collections: the Cowan Tetrapod Collection, The Herbarium, the Spencer Entomological Collection, the Fish Collection, the Marine Invertebrate Collection and the Fossil Collection. This natural history museum is home to Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton, which is suspended in the two-story glass atrium.

Download a PDF of this press release.

Amy Gibson
Marketing, Communications & Events Coordinator
Beaty Biodiversity Museum
604-352-9993 | Email

Niche Café Closure

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum and the Biodiversity Research Centre regret to announce that food service at the Niche Café is no longer available.

We realize that the Niche Café is important to the UBC community and museum visitors and we are working towards developing the Café into a welcoming environment, with more diverse offerings emphasizing biodiversity and sustainability. Until this time, the Niche Café space remains accessible to the public during museum hours.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact:

Catherine Ouellet-Martin
Beaty Biodiversity Museum Administrative Manager
Tel: 604-827-4807 | Email

Katie Beall
Biodiversity Research Centre Administrator
Tel: 604-822-0862 | Email


Congratulations to Derek Tan: 2016 President’s Service Award recipient

Derek Tan

Derek Tan, on a botany foray.

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is proud to announce that our own Digital Media Specialist Derek Tan is one of this year’s recipients for the President’s Service Award.

Derek is one of three recipients of the Creativity & Innovation Service Award, which recognizes the personal achievements and contributions that UBC staff make to the community, and to the vision and goals of the University. The Creativity & Innovation Service Award’s specific criteria includes:

  • Making innovative contributions within their field of work
  • Contributing to a project or initiative that enabled a more effective environment in which to work or learn
  • Creating new, cost-effective, sustainable and/or innovative work methods that align with the mandate of the unit
  • Developing a new approach, technology, or implementation that helped solve an organizational goal or challenge
  • Demonstrating a high level of problem-solving skills
  • Introducing new and meaningful ways of approaching a project, process, or service

Derek constantly performs his duties with a high degree of dedication and commitment, supporting every area of the museum from our educational team, to our membership events, to museum outreach initiatives. His collaborative approach and commitment to education and outreach comes across in every project in which he is involved. Every time the museum embarks on a new project, Derek’s contributions to digital and print design are crucial to implementation.

Museum director Eric Taylor enthusiastically endorsed Derek’s nomination for this award: “I strongly believe that Derek’s design skills have been fundamental to the public’s understanding of biodiversity as a concept through the museum. Derek is one of the true leaders of the museum. His work is everywhere, and through Derek’s creativity, and dedication effectively, that work is the visual ‘personality’ of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.”

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum and all of its staff heartily support the decision to award Derek with the Creativity & Innovation Service Award! Congratulations!

2016 Annual Report: A Year of Celebration and Impact

2016BeatyBiodiversityMuseumAnnualReport-1 The past year has been a particularly notable and exciting one at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum (BBM) and I am pleased to be back as the Director. The theme of this year’s annual report is “impact.” It is undeniable that the BBM has become a popular attraction at UBC and in Vancouver. We are closing in on 200,000 visitors and we average about 35,000 per year. It is equally undeniable that each collection and department of the BBM has been working very hard since we opened and over the past year, but what has been the impact of all this effort in terms of our mission of enhancing the understanding of biodiversity through collections-based research, teaching, and public outreach? Each collection provides insights to answer to this question and it is clear that the BBM is impactful in myriad ways.

I will highlight one—our expanded efforts in terms of undergraduate education. Over the past year, curators, faculty, and education and outreach staff provided services to over 6,500 UBC students largely from the Faculty of Science, but also from Arts, Commerce, Education, Forestry, Library Science, and specialized programs (English Language Institute). You can read more about these efforts in the Education report, but I highlight them here because they clearly indicate the impact the biodiversity collections can have on enhancing undergraduate and graduate education, they represent a successful new initiative, and they represent a productive partnership among curatorial staff, education staff, and course instructors.

2016BeatyBiodiversityMuseumAnnualReport-2I wish to thank all of our visitors who spent time at the BBM this year, our dedicated volunteers (over 100!), donors, and all of the staff of the BBM, from work-learn students, to full-time staff and faculty. Your commitment to, and passion for, biodiversity and the BBM are inspirational. Finally, on behalf of all at the BBM, I want to acknowledge the continuing wonderful support that we receive from Drs. Simon Peacock (Dean, Faculty of Science), Lacey Samuels (Head, Department of Botany), and Bob Shadwick (Head, Department of Zoology). Your continued commitment to the BBM is greatly appreciated and clearly impactful!

Download a PDF of the full report.

Bird Week 2016

May 7 – 14, 2016 (excluding May 9th) | 12:30 p.m.
Get hands-on and learn about birds with our daily activity. Meet under the whale.
Included with museum admission or membership.

Interested in birds? Come to our other bird related activities leading up to Bird Week:

Penguins are way cool because…
Ildiko Szabo
Sunday, May 1, 2016 | 1:00 p.m.
Included with museum admission or membership.

Table of Treasures – Penguins
Ildiko Szabo
Sunday, May 1, 2016 | 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Check out Vancouver Bird Week for more bird events happening all around town.