A fantastic background to pre-European Vancouver!


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by RLB2 on November 12, 2011

Although Vancouver is the heart of all things outdoorsy and energetic this museum is a must visit for anyone who is even remotely interested in the pre-European history of the area. The museum itself is located on the University of British Columbia's campus. You can catch a bus from Granville Street (just outside Templeton's if you wanted to copy our itinerary) that passes through the pretty district of Kitsilano and takes your right up to UBC. From there you can pretend to be a student and stroll across the campus to the museum itself.

We spent a full day in the museum and even then we had to skip over some bits at the end, it doesn't feel like a huge sprawling building, but there is something to look at as you turn every corner. There are tours that you can join that give you lots of information about various exhibits, but we didn't join one in the end and just took ourselves around.

The first section that you will enter is called the Great Hall and has a massive collection of totem poles from the Haida and other First Nations from along the British Columbia coastline. We managed to spend a good hour just wandering around this hall a reading about the various totem poles and sculptures. I found a whole wall of stories about First Nations as written by them. I got quite emotional reading about how pot-latches were banned by the European Candians and how they were such an important part of First Nations Culture.

After exhausting the Great Hall we wandered down to what is probably the most iconic object of the MOA, the yellow cedar sculpture by Bill Read of the Raven and the First Men. This sculpture encapsulates the First Nation story of the origins of man, which is explained on the walls around the sculpture.

We then had a look around a temporary exhibition of Musquem carvings and jewellery, which included a video of one of the artists story.

Thinking we had managed to look at most things we wandered across a hall to an exhibition of other nations from around the world and were astounded to find that there was as much to see (if not more) again. We spent lots of time looking at fabrics, outfits and carvings from Asia and Oceania. The MOA has so many pieces in it's collection that many are held in drawers underneath the glass cabinets that you can pull out and look at. I found this a much more interactive way to look at displays than just wandering around the museum aimlessly.

To finish off the whole visit we headed outside to explore the Haida houses that were carved under direction of Bill Reid. The setting is absolutely breathtaking, with the snow-covered mountains in the distance and the houses surrounded by toten poles that are reflected in the pond in front of them. An almost magical experience.

All in all a fantastically interesting museum that is well worth a day out of the vigorous outdoor activites that you can do in Vancouver!
Museum of Anthropology at UBC
6393 North West Marine Drive
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z2
(604) 822-5087

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