The Collections

Objects from around the world

MOA’s ethnographic objects come from around world, including the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The MOA building also holds 535,000 archaeological objects under the care of UBC’s Laboratory of Archaeology.

The ethnological collections are comprised of over 15,000 objects from Asia, almost 12,000 from North America (including over 7,100 from B.C. First Nations), approximately 4,300 from South and Central America, 4,000 from the Pacific islands and over 2,300 are from Africa. Over 6,000 pieces in the collection are textiles from all around the world.

More than 38,000 object records are available online (33,000 with images) via our online collections catalogue (MOA CAT), as well as through the Reciprocal Research Network (RRN).

Culturally Sensitive Materials

The Museum of Anthropology is committed to respecting the values and spiritual beliefs of the cultures represented in its collections. We know that our collections contain items that are important to the originating communities, and whose placement and care within the Museum continue to affect the values and beliefs of those communities. The Museum recognizes that these objects may have a non-material side embodying cultural rights, values, knowledge, and ideas which are not owned or possessed by MOA, but are retained by the originating communities.

Further information about the management of culturally sensitive materials at MOA can be found in our Guidelines for Management of Culturally Sensitive Material document. MOA is committed to working respectfully with the originating communities from whom the Museum’s collections have originated. Read more about the Museum’s Repatriation Guidelines.

Collection Object Access

MOA places a high priority on providing access to our collections for researchers, originating community members, and members of the public. There are several ways to access the ethnology collections:

  • CAT

    The CAT is MOA’s online object catalogue, where the majority of our 40,000 collection records are available for browsing and searching. If you have any questions about the objects on this online database, please contact our Collections Department at

  • RRN

    The Reciprocal Research Network (RRN) is an online research environment that provides access to First Nations items from the Northwest Coast and British Columbia. It allows you to search through items from MOA as well as many other institutions. Visit us at

  • In Person

  • Borrowing from the Collection

    For information on borrowing objects from MOA’s ethnology collection, please refer to one of the PDFs available for download under Resources.

  • Photography Applications

    MOA restricts the use of its images for commercial purposes. Permission is granted for one-time non-exclusive use only and reproduction is limited to what has been approved. Click the icon to download the Image Reproduction Application Form.


Guidelines for Collections Access

MOA provides access and research opportunities to community members, academics, and other members of the public who have interest in MOA’s collections. Physical access to objects can be provided in one of our purpose-built research rooms.

First Nations Map

The intent is to provide a more accurate representation of First Nations in British Columbia. Boundaries shown are language areas and not an authoritative depiction of tribal territories.

First Nations Language Map

First Nations languages are shown with outlines that are approximate representations of their geographic locations.

Application Form: Use of First Nations Maps

The reproduction of these maps is limited to what has been approved specifically in this application.

Repatriation Guidelines

MOA is committed to working respectfully with the originating communities from whom the Museum’s collections have originated. Discussions regarding repatriation are governed by this principle. MOA considers all requests for repatriation seriously and on a case-by-case basis.

Management of Culturally Sensitive Materials

The following are guidelines for identifying and managing such sensitive material so that the responsibilities of both the Museum and the originating peoples are met

Image Reproduction Application Form

Please fill out the form below and direct all requests for use of an existing MOA image to Please allow adequate time for your request to be processed (minimum 2 weeks for straightforward image requests - online licencing permissions may require several months to process).

Acquisitions Guidelines

This brief guide to the Museum of Anthropology’s acquisitions process is intended to give potential donors/vendors some background information that will help them in making decisions about the future of their collections.

Guide - Borrowing by Originating Communities

This brief guide to borrowing conditions and loans procedures is intended to provide potential borrowers with information on current practices at MOA to enable them to plan for loans more effectively.

Guide - Borrowing Conditions for Institutions

This brief guide to borrowing conditions and loans procedures is intended to provide potential borrowers with information on current practices at the U.B.C. Museum of Anthropology (MOA) to enable them to plan for loans more effectively. The Museum’s internal process is complex and can take more time than one might expect.

Fee Schedule

Many MOA images, resources and services are freely available, but fees are charged for some reproductions, activities and services. Pricing has been established to recover costs and to be comparable to what similar institutions charge.