Under intense criticism for ripping out its most popular exhibits without a replacement plan, the Royal British Columbia Museum named a new chief executive on Wednesday.
The museum’s board of directors said Alicia Dubois will take the helm on Feb. 28, replacing acting CEO Dan Muzyka.
In a statement, the board said Dubois has extensive experience as a senior executive working for companies across Canada, saying she has a strong focus on championing diversity and inclusion and intercultural understanding within all the organizations she has helped lead.
Dubois has focused on developing “cross-cultural approaches” for several high-profile organizations, the statement said.
She was the legal counsel for the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto; Scotia Bank’s national director of Indigenous financial services and compliance legal counsel; the vice-president of Indigenous markets for CIBC; and, most recently, served as the chief executive for the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation in Calgary.
Dubois also served as a trustee with the Royal Ontario Museum for three years before becoming an honorary trustee in 2020.
She holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Lethbridge and a law degree from the University of Toronto.
The museum closed half its exhibit space on Jan. 31, including popular pioneer-history displays as well as the First Peoples section, in what it called a “decolonization” of the third floor. That space is expected to be empty for up to five years while the museum puts together a more inclusive story of B.C.’s history.
Late last month, the minister in charge of the Royal B.C. Museum, Melanie Mark, revealed the museum building and archives, which opened in 1970, were seismically at risk. She said building materials used at the time presented health risks and the facility presented challenges for people with disabilities and mobility issues.
Dubois isn’t being made available for interviews until after her appointment, but the board of directors issued a statement on her behalf.
“Museums are powerful contributors to communities and must be welcoming and inclusive in order to thrive,” she said in the statement. “I started my career with a background in science and law, and hold a deep appreciation for how cultural diversity adds resiliency to our communities and institutions. I am excited and honoured to be working with the Royal B.C. Museum’s outstanding team and helping steer the Royal B.C. Museum forward into its next chapter.”
Carole James, a member of the museum’s board of directors, said directors were impressed with Dubois’ experience in “change management” within large, complex organizations, and with her intercultural expertise.
“She will not only be a benefit to the museum, but will bring invaluable skills and insight to the region and to the province,” she said in a statement. “With her multidisciplinary background, coupled with her passion for fostering inclusive perspectives, we feel Alicia is the right person to lead the museum going forward.”
Dubois is also co-chair of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, where she continues to participate in global Indigenous-focused initiatives driven by the regional development policy committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In a statement, Mark called the Royal B.C. Museum one of the province’s greatest cultural icons and most important institutions.
“As we work to modernize the museum, including safeguarding our collections and increasing access, I am confident Ms. Dubois’ insightful leadership and extensive experience will forge a path towards a dynamic museum that reflects the voices and stories of our history,” said Mark, the minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport.
The province announced in its throne speech on Tuesday that the museum is on its official agenda for 2022. The speech said “the long overdue process to modernize the RBCM will also continue, with more details on the scope and budget to be decided in coming months.”