‘They’re always with you. When people pass, your mom or your dad or whoever’s passed, they’re with you all the time. You have to remember that. They’re always with you, even though they’re on the other side. They never leave you.’
Mervin Point’s moving words are one of the first things you read as you enter the Ancestors exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology. This is a place with a tremendous sense of spirit. The beauty and craftsmanship from our First Nations founders is humbling. To see these rich collections housed in Arthur Erickson’s forest-bound building of ‘light and shadows’ is to experience something truly unique. If you are making a short-short list of things to do in Vancouver, the MOA should be on it.
The Great Hall
As you walk down the ramp into the Great Hall, you will see beautifully weathered poles, posts and canoes. Fifteen metre walls of glass let in much light and look out onto the traditional Musqueam lands.
The Audain Gallery
Home to temporary exhibits from around the world, this space is currently dedicated to (In)visible. The Spiritual World of Taiwan Through Contemporary Art.
Seven contemporary Taiwanese artists are represented here and you’ll see the work of the first, Chiu Yu Wen, as you weave your way in through Water Fairies Reproduction Project. ‘To me,’ she writes, ‘the art of paper cutting is a form of ritualized destruction that allows for the creation of new life.’
The Multiversity Galleries
You could spend hours in just one tiny section of this trove of more than 10,000 objects from the Northwest Coast First People and beyond. There are collections on open display and in exhibit cases. You can also pull out giant sliding drawer after giant sliding drawer full of interesting objects from around the world.
The Michael M. Ames Theatre
This strikingly beautiful space hosts an intimate, red-seated theatre surrounded by Coast Indian Suite – the gorgeous work created in 1976 by respected BC artist, Jack Shadbolt.
Bill Reid Rotunda
Haida artist Bill Reid is known throughout the world for his sculptures, artwork and jewellery. Here, we see The Raven and The First Men, carved out of yellow cedar by Reid and a team of artists. This was one of the Reid pieces featured on the Canadian $20 bill issued in 2004. Surrounding The Raven at MOA are display cases that include Reid’s intricate gold jewellery and boxes.
‘There is a little bit of our soul that goes into everything we make,’ writes Morgan Guerin in Belongings. ‘There’s a prayer in every stroke, because if you don’t believe in it, if you don’t put it there, it won’t work.’
Written by Elizabeth Newton