MOA is temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Full details →

UBC Home

The Collections

Conservation

Curatorial, Interpretation + Design

Library + Archives

Research + Collections Stories See all

Research + Collections Stories

In MOA’s Drawers: Miniature Tea Set

Designed to accommodate an impressive magnitude of objects, the drawers in MOA’s Multiversity Galleries are home to some of the smallest, earliest, and certainly most underrated, objects in the Museum’s collections. Housing more than 9,000 objects from around the world for public view, the MVG invites visitors to take a deep dive into collections that would typically be stored behind the scenes due to constraints on exhibition spaces.

Versatile in their ability to safely display a wide range of materials from across the globe, these state-of-the-art drawers are where curation and conservation come together. With a gentle tug on the long metal handles the drawers roll open, revealing cultural belongings from past and present to explore.

The Multiversity Galleries drawers make space for thousands of objects, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed trying to see them all in one visit. If you’re not sure where to begin in exploring the myriad of works on display, seek out this teeny-tiny tea set.

MOA Collection 2741/1a-nn. Photo by Jessica Bushey.

Miniature tea set by Tom Kawnak (Inuit)

“Steep” up for a closer look at this adorable miniature tea set. Carved out of walrus tusk, this 40-piece set was commissioned in 1936 by British archaeologist Graham Rowley as a gift for his niece. To infuse the ivory set with a pop of colour, Kownak decorated the teapot, sugar bowl, milk jug, and lidded dishes with plastic inlays. Here’s a fun fact to sip on: these red, blue and green embellishments were sourced from plastic toothbrush handles.

Find me: Case 18