Museum History

Founded in 1925 and originally named the Geological Museum and later the M.Y. Williams Geology Museum, the PME was UBC’s first museum. Over the next several decades, the museum acquired valuable minerals, gems, and fossils, slowly expanding its collection. In 1995, budget constraints closed the museum until 2000, when UBC alumni Ross Beaty recognized the museum’s value and in an attempt to preserve and expand its existing collection and exhibits, Mr. Beaty with other supporters opened the Pacific Mineral Museum in downtown Vancouver. The Pacific Mineral Museum showcased an extensive assembly of spectacular mineral specimens donated or on loan from numerous collectors, including Mr. Beaty himself.

In 2003, the M.Y. Williams Geology Museum and the Pacific Mineral Museum merged. The new museum returned to its roots at UBC and became what is now the Pacific Museum of Earth. This merger realized Mr. Beaty’s original vision of an expanded Earth sciences museum on UBC’s campus. Mr. Beaty contributed the cabinets and mineral collections of the Pacific Mineral Museum and UBC contributed the physical space and historic collections of the M.Y. Williams Geology Museum.

With over 30,000 specimens, the museum serves thousands of visitors each year. Thanks to the extraordinary foresight and generosity of Mr. Beaty, this historic collection has been preserved and enhanced for generations to come.

In 2011, as part of updates to the Earth and Ocean Sciences Main Building, renovations began on the museum. Once building renovations were complete, construction of nearly fifty brand new displays began. Of the PME’s new exhibits, the new Globe and Gem Gallery, which holds the PME’s most valuable displays, is home to Canada’s first and only OmniGlobe. With the completion of the new Earth Sciences Building, came an expanded gallery space for the PME, part of which holds the new Evolution of Earth exhibit.

A poster presentation about the history of PME’s fossil collection was produced by K. Brink, K. Hodge and S. Sutherland in 2017. (Click this small image to see read this poster)

History of PME's fossil collection