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In a Different Light

Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art

Look Closer

In a Different Light

Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art

Look Closer

In a Different Light

Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art


Reopening June 13, 2024, 5 pm


Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks

Despite sitting still in a glass case before you, some artworks never stop moving. They contain histories. They challenge us. They are more than art.

In a Different Light presents more than 110 historical Indigenous artworks and marks the return of many important works to British Columbia. These objects are amazing artistic achievements. Yet they also transcend the idea of ‘art’ or ‘artifact.’

Through the voices of contemporary First Nations artists and community members, this exhibition reflects on the roles historical artworks have today. Featuring immersive storytelling and innovative design, it explores what we can learn from these works and how they relate to Indigenous peoples’ relationships to their lands.

With the increasing impacts of colonization in the 19th century, many Northwest Coast objects were removed from their communities. As they circulated through museums and private collections, their histories were often lost.

Indigenous community members are now reconnecting with these objects and rebuilding their past. Through their eyes, you will come to see these artworks in a different light — as teachers, belongings, even legal documents.

Ultimately, this inaugural exhibition of the Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks highlights the creativity and inventiveness of Northwest Coast artists and how they understood the world they lived in. And critically, it shows us the immense body of knowledge that endures today.

Curators: Karen Duffek, Bill McLennan and Jordan Wilson.

Learn more about the exhibition in this video.


About the Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks

MOA’s groundbreaking new gallery is dedicated to Indigenous art from the Northwest Coast. One of the most elegant and innovative exhibition spaces of its kind, the 210-square-metre gallery pairs cutting-edge technology with an inviting and natural setting that reflects the surrounding environment.

The Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks was made possible through the generous support of the Doggone Foundation. Additional funding was provided by Canada 150 and the Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces Program.

In a Different Light premiered at MOA in the Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks on June 22, 2017.


Image credits L-R: Kaayd hllngaay skaayxan woven by Skidegate Haida artist and painted by Neeslant, John Cross, photo by Tyler Hagan. Xiigaa xahl k’iidayaa by Charles Edenshaw, photo by Tyler Hagan.