Arts & Culture

Historical Museums and Exhibits: Kelowna's Journey Through Time

A room filled with lots of different types of items on a wooden floor next to a barrel and a wall with pictures on it at The Okanagan Wine & Orchard Museum in Kelowna.
The Okanagan Wine & Orchard Museum

Kelowna has a series of museums and exhibits that offer a unique window into the past. These cultural landmarks provide an immersive journey through time, showcasing the diverse heritage and historical milestones that have shaped the region. From the intricate narratives of indigenous communities to the impactful tales of settlers and soldiers, Kelowna's historical museums invite visitors to explore and connect with the multifaceted story of this vibrant area.

Okanagan Heritage Museum

The Okanagan Heritage Museum, a cornerstone of Kelowna's historical landscape, presents a vivid portrayal of the Okanagan Valley's evolution. The 2019 transformation of this flagship museum incorporated the wisdom of Syilx Okanagan elders and a diverse array of community voices, revitalizing its galleries with a dynamic blend of stories and artifacts​. Visitors step into a world that reverently tells the story of the Syilx people, their profound bond with the land, and the nuanced interactions between various cultural groups that have called the valley home​​.

The museum is a centre of learning and engagement. Regular feature exhibits offer in-depth insights into diverse aspects of local history, while the museum's array of events, many tailored for children, blend education with enjoyment, fostering a deeper understanding of history, culture, and varied lifestyles​. Additionally, the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame, Kelowna Public Archives, and the Ursula Surtees Regional Conservation Laboratory within the museum premises further enrich the visitor's experience​.

Okanagan Military Museum

The Okanagan Military Museum is dedicated to preserving and highlighting the region's military heritage. Its collections provide a poignant look into the contributions of locals in global conflicts, featuring artifacts from wars ranging from the South African War to contemporary military operations. This museum not only commemorates history but also offers a unique, interactive experience through exhibits like "ArtiFACT or ArtiFICTION?", a trivia-based exploration that engages visitors of all ages.

Boasting one of Canada's most impressive firearms collections, the museum also houses a wealth of uniforms, insignia, badges, and equipment, illustrating the historical breadth of military involvement from the region. The Vince Bezeau Military Archives and Library, also part of the museum, serves as a valuable resource for researchers looking into military history.

Laurel Packinghouse

A visit to Kelowna’s historical journey would be incomplete without stepping into the Laurel Packinghouse. As the oldest and largest packinghouse in British Columbia, it embodies a rich agricultural heritage. Today, it serves a dual role as a museum and an atmospheric event venue​​. The Laurel Packinghouse is home to the Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum, where visitors can explore the intertwined history of the tree fruit and wine industries. The exhibits, including colourful fruit crates, traditional equipment, and a live beehive, paint a vivid picture of the challenges and triumphs experienced by those who have shaped these industries.


Kelowna’s historical museums are gateways to understanding the soul of the region. They weave a narrative that connects the past with the present, inviting visitors to step into the shoes of those who have shaped the region's history. These museums offer a comprehensive and engaging experience for those eager to discover Kelowna's rich heritage.