Friday Morning Visit to the Museum of Anthropology

On Friday morning, after breakfast in the hotel, we drove to Burnaby, picked up our son, Ian and drove to the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology on the UBC campus. We parked in a nearby parkade and walked over to the museum through the light rain (this is Vancouver).

Museum of Anthropology Sign Sign describing mosaic on the entryway Mosaic on the museum entryway

The museum is on the ocean side of Marine Drive – just across from the UBC campus. There is an impressive mosaic in the entranceway that is intended to be a link between the Musqueam people and the land on which the museum stands.

Having a snack in the museum's cafeteria. Our guide to the museum was the daughter of a good friend of Dr John Hooge Welcome from the Musqueam people

We arrived before the Museum opened at 10:00 AM but the staff invited us in and suggested that we wait in the cafeteria until the others arrived and the museum opened. Our guide through the museum was Madeleine Barois. She is the daughter of a good friend of Dr John Hooge and has a summer job at the museum. The tour began in the entryway to the museum with a display depicting a traditional welcome from the Musqueam people (The People of the Grass) who had lived in this area for millenia.

Man meets bear House Post Modern interpretation of traditional art form

The entrance hall included some traditional Musqueam art such as this depiction of a man meeting a bear and a traditional carved house post. In addition there are some modern interpretations of the older art forms.

Closeup of modern interpretation of Musqueam art form Information about traditional house posts Traditional house post

The left-most photo shows a closeup of the modern interpretation of Musquean art. The center photo shows the signage explaining about traditional carved house poles such as the one shown on the right.

Waterproof bentwood storage boxes. Signage explaining how the sides are made out of a single board. Detail of the laced corner of the box.

The first photo shows some of the traditional waterproof bentwood storage boxes used by the coastal natives. The center photo shows how a board was notched and then bent to form the sides of the box. The two ends of the board were laced tightly together as shown in the third photo to form a waterproof seam. The bottom of the box was laced to the sides in a similar manner.

Our guide shows where the various native tribes lived along the West coast. Some of the vessels used for feasting during a potlatch. A carved boat used at a potlatch.

Our guide showed us where the various coastal tribes lived along the West coast. The other two photos show some of the vessels and boats used during potlatch ceremonies to hold gifts or food.

Description about carved "house dishes" used for feasting and display Large carved "house dish" More carved dishes used for feasts and for display

The sign explains the role of the elaborately carved “house dishes” used by the Kwakwaka’wakw people. They were carved in the shape of an animal or supernatural being and embodied the history and wealth of their owners. The foods they held made visible the rights to resources and territories claimed by the chiefly host.

Carved totem poles or house poles Otto examines one of the carved totems Allen examines a large carved figure

The rear of the museum display area held a large variety of elaborately carved totem poles, house poles and large carved figures.

Our guide explains the welcoming figure with its outstretched arms. The museum's collection extends for beyond West coast native art. The museum has numerous artifacts from South-east Asia.

Our guide explained the meaning of the welcoming figure with outstretched arms. We then left the West coast galleries and briefly toured the rest of the museum. The museum has a large collection of artifacts from South-east Asia and other areas of the world that were brought to this area by sailors and traders.

Large Buddha figure Display cases from China Display of artifacts from around the world

The first photo shows a seated Buddha figure. Unlike most museums that only display a small fraction of their holdings, this museum tries to display a large fraction of their holdings in display cases and pull out drawers like those shown above.

The Last Suppers of Jesus and of Lucifer Soapstone carved chess sets created for trade with the outside world

The photo on the left shows Portuguese art depicting the last supper of Jesus and of Lucifer. The right-hand photo shows some of the soapstone carvings made by the Inuit for trade with outsiders. In this case chess pieces.

The Bill Reid Rotunda Raven and the First Men Reunion attendees listen to a brief biography of Bill Reid and his art

The tour of the exhibits concluded with a visit to the Bill Reid rotunda where his sculpture of “Raven and the First Men” is on display. This sculpture is shown on the new Canadian $20 bill. Bill Reid’s mother was a member of the Haida tribe and he has become a widely known artist and activist promoting the preservation of native lands and old growth forests.

Native long house adjacent to the museum Closeup of the long house outside the museum

Outside the museum building is a traditional native long house. Because it was still raining, we did not walk out to it.

Ian finds some brightly colored socks in the museum's gift shop. Another of the native masks on sale in the gift shop

Before leaving the museum we visited the museum’s gift shop. Ian was attracted to a display of brightly colored socks. There were many beautiful native masks for sale as well. As we left the museum everyone expressed the feeling that the visit had been very worthwhile but that we had just scratched the surface of what the museum had to offer and that a return visit was definitely in order.