The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs, and community connections. It is also acclaimed for its spectacular architecture and unique setting on the cliffs of Point Grey.
MOA houses one of the world’s finest collections of Northwest Coast First People’s art in an award-winning building designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. Opened in 1976, the concrete and glass structure is based on the post-and-beam structures of northern Northwest Coast First Nations. MOA’s Great Hall displays huge totem poles, feast dishes, and canoes from the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Haida, and Coast Salish peoples, while smaller pieces in gold, silver, argillite, wood, and other materials are exhibited elsewhere in the galleries. The Museum grounds were designed by landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander and feature indigenous plants and grasses and spectacular views of mountains and sea. The outdoor sculpture complex includes two Haida Houses and several totem poles by some of the finest contemporary First Nations artists of the Northwest Coast. MOA also has the world’s largest collection of works by Haida artist Bill Reid, a gallery devoted to a collection of European ceramics unique to North America, and a series of innovative Multiversity Galleries showcasing MOA’s world-wide research collections.
Number of Ethnographic Objects
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Welcome Plaza The Museum of Anthropology is situated on the traditional land of the Musqueam people. In 2011, the MOA and the Musqueam celebrated the official naming of the Welcome Plaza xʷəńiwən ce:p kʷθəθ nəὠeyəɬ, “Remember your teachings.” The Welcome Plaza features artworks by Musqueam artists: Salish Footprint by Susan Point and Transformation by Joe Becker. Adjacent to the Welcome Plaza stands an Ancestor Figure by Susan Point.
Ramp & Great Hall The Ramp and Great Hall feature sculptures, textiles, bentwood boxes, feast dishes and canoes from the Northwest Coast. The Great Hall is a spectacular space created by 15 metre high walls of glass and displaying large poles, house posts and carved figures, mostly from the mid-19th century. Works by contemporary artists are also featured including Welcome Figure by Nuu-chah-nulth artist Joe David, Bone Box by Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, and yaahl kingnganggang (Raven Calling) by Haida artist Robert Davidson.
Outdoor Sculpture Complex Behind the museum, is the outdoor sculpture complex. It features a Haida and Mortuary house constructed by Haida artist Bill Reid and ‘Namgis artist Doug Cranmer and modeled on structures that would have been present in a 19th century Haida village. In front of the houses are examples of memorial and mortuary poles dating from 1951 to the present caved by Jim Hart (Haida), Chief Walter Harris (Gitxsan) and Mungo Martin (Kwakwaka’wakw). To the side of the complex are two massive houseboards carved by Musqueam artist Susan Point in 1997.
The O’Brian & Audain Gallery These galleries feature a wide range of temporary exhibitions on world arts and culture. Past exhibitions have included Luminescence: the Silver of Peru, Safar/Voyage: Contemporary Art by Arab, Iranian and Turkish Artists, Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens, Visions of Enlightenment: Buddhist Art at MOA, and Kesu: the Art and Life of Doug Cranmer.
Michael M. Ames Theatre The Theatre is used for lectures, workshops, and public performances. Displayed on its walls is Coast Indian Suite (1976) by the renowned British Columbian artist Jack Shadbolt (1909 – 1998). This monumental work—a visual improvisation on Northwest Coast Aboriginal masks as metaphors of transformation—comprises 20 panels drawn in charcoal and pastel on watercolour board. The work was a gift of Bertha M. Mathisen, and has been certified by the Department of Canadian Heritage as being of outstanding significance and national importance.
Multiversity Galleries (Ways of Knowing) These galleries house thousands of objects from the Museum’s worldwide research collections. MOA has worked with members of the communities whose relatives and ancestors made the pieces on display. Community members also helped to organize the collections using their own classification systems. The exhibit cases are designed to provide maximum visual access to the objects. Innovative Digital Catalogue Terminals (MOACAT) provide additional collection including images, audio and video at the touch of a screen. Embedded within the Multiversity Galleries is a Presentation Circle featuring a series of short, informative videos.
Bill Reid Rotunda The Museum has the world’s largest collection of works by Haida artist Bill Reid. The Bill Reid Rotunda displays his famous sculpture The Raven and the First Men as well as some of his other works in gold, silver, argillite and wood. With the assistance of several other artists, Reid created this massive work out of a giant block of laminated yellow cedar. It was commissioned by Walter and Marianne Koerner and unveiled by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1980. It depicts a moment in the ancestral past of the Haida people when Raven found the first humans in a clam shell on the beach. For many years, this work was featured on the Canadian $20 dollar bill.
Koerner European Ceramics Gallery This gallery features more than 600 European ceramics collected by Dr. Walter C. Koerner. The collection contains examples of tin-glazed and lead-glazed earthenware and stoneware from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Some pieces are considered to be the finest in North America, and the collection as a whole is unique in the world. Specially commissioned ceramics and textiles by contemporary Vancouver artists highlight the beauty and artistry of the collection as a whole.