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Research & Collections Stories

New Installations + Displays

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“Don’t give it up! The Lives and Stories of the Mabel Stanley Collection”

In 2011, the family of the late Mabel Stanley (1901 – 1979) donated her personal collection of ceremonial regalia and other First Nations items to MOA, with the understanding that the 24 objects would still be accessible to the family and that the Museum would create an exhibition about them. In 2014, students in UBC’s Museum Practice and Curatorship course (Anthropology 431/518) took up the challenge. Mabel Stanley was an extraordinary woman who was born into Kwakwaka’wakw nobility at Cape Mudge, attended Coqualeetza Indian Residential School in Sardis, lost her Indian status through marriage, raised nine children, and became recognized and honoured for her contributions as an advocate for Aboriginal and women’s rights.

Image credit: Photo by the University Extension Department. UBC 1.1/16005-5.


Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy From Asia

Asia has an enormous diversity of languages and writing systems. Writing, especially calligraphy, has been a revered art form and has played an important social and political role in Asian traditions ranging from religious texts in Sanskrit to Islamic and Chinese calligraphy. The Asian collection at MOA contains over 18,000 items, about 40 percent of the total holdings, and is the largest collection at the Museum. There is a little known collection of Chinese, Japanese, and Persian calligraphy, as well as various manuscripts such as Southeast Asian palm leaf manuscripts, woodblocks for printing and objects with inscriptions. The items featured in Case 76 in the Multiversity Galleries are the highlights of this collection of approximately 250 items.

Image credit: Shinpan neko no tenarai (New impression: Cats take calligraphy lessons),  MOA Collection: N2.1181

Cultural Heritage on fire

Rapid Response Case

How should museums respond to current events or issues in the world? This small display case in the lobby presents pressing issues of the moment by making connections to what we do at MOA, and promotes constructive social activism that aims to create positive change.

On display now: Cultural Heritage on Fire

Last September, the 200-year-old National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil was destroyed by fire. The former Imperial Palace and its collection of over 20 million items—including archival materials and 42,000 ethnographic objects—were turned to ash.

Cultural memory is continuously under threat, whether from natural or human-caused disasters. How can we understand our past and face the future when cultural heritage is destroyed and irreplaceable cultural memory lost?

See past Rapid Response Cases


Contemporary Korean Art: Wire Sculptures By Key-Sook Geum

Newly acquired works, Blue JangOt (2015) and Dream in Green JoGoRe (2013) by Key-Sook Guem are now on display in Case 73 in Multiversity Galleries. Key-Sook Geum (금기숙) is an artist, fashion designer, and scholar from the Republic of Korea. Having taught and worked in fashion design, Geum combines art with fashion in her exquisite wire sculptures in the shape of women’s clothing.

Guem is inspired by the shapes and styles of clothing from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). They tell stories about the people who wore them: their lives, aesthetics, and philosophies. Blue JangOt (2015) represents the jangot, a veil in the shape of an overcoat worn by noble women during the Joseon Dynasty. Dream in Green JoGoRe (2013) is in the shape of the jeogori, a traditional shirt worn over the chima, a long, sleeveless dress.

Image credit:  [MOA collection 3284/2]. Dream in Green JoGoRe. Made by Key-Sook Geum.