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Shake Up

Preserving What We Value

Look Closer

Shake Up

Preserving What We Value

Look Closer

Shake Up

Preserving What We Value



Earthquakes have long been a part of the reality of living along the Northwest Coast. At MOA, preparation for this reality is a priority of monumental proportions and why the Museum’s iconic Great Hall is now undergoing major seismic upgrades—to help preserve the building, the collections and cultural heritage.

In conjunction with this immense undertaking, MOA’s exhibition, Shake Up: Preserving What We Value, explores the convergence of earthquake science and technology with the rich Indigenous knowledge and oral history of the living cultures represented in MOA’s Northwest Coast collection. Beyond scientific discoveries, Shake Up also puts into the foreground traditional knowledge of earthquakes and natural disasters that has been passed down through generations throughout many cultures.

Through multimedia installations, contemporary First Nations art and cultural objects, Shake Up explores the connection between cultural knowledge and natural seismic events. Bringing together the perspectives of cultures, arts and sciences, this exhibition reflects on what we value and how we preserve it.

The exhibition is displayed in areas throughout the Museum, and visitors have the opportunity to see the majestic poles of the Great Hall resting in temporary storage in the adjacent O’Brian Gallery.

Learn from the knowledge keepers, objects, and events showcased in Shake Up through this interactive webpage. Plus, you can watch interviews with Indigenous community members, seismologists, conservators and engineers who share their knowledge of earthquakes and how to protect material and cultural heritage in these videos.

You can also explore the Great Hall online in its original state in the 360° virtual tour below, or click here to explore.

Curators: Jennifer Kramer and Jill Baird.

Shake Up: Preserving What We Value is the first of two exhibitions at MOA to explore the theme of natural disasters and their implications. A Future for Memory: Art and life after the Great East Japan Earthquake, curated by MOA’s Curator of Asia, Fuyubi Nakamura—opens in February 11, 2021. Its focus will be on changing physical and psychological landscapes in the aftermath of 2011 earthquake in Japan, and consider its local and global resonances.

Photo credits (L-R): 1. John Davis (‘Nakwaxda’xw), Earthquake mask, before 1939. MOA Collection: A6357. Photo by Jessica Bushey. 2. MOA Exterior, Photo courtesay of UBC 3. Eagle-Halibut pole by Oyai (Nisga’a), made circa 1860, being inspected in summer 2018 by MOA Conservation staff in preparation for Great Hall seismic upgrades. MOA Collection: A50020. Photo by Kiel Torres; 4. Joe David (Nuu-chah-nulth)’s Cedar Man welcome figure, made in 1984, being moved into the Great Hall in February 2012. Photo by Gerry Lawson; 5–6. House frontal pole by Bill Reid (Haida), made in 1961-1962, being moved into the Great Hall in 2008. MOA Collection: A50030. Photo by Heidi Swierenga.