Big changes are underway in MOA's Great Hall, which is receiving seismic upgrades in order to augment its structural integrity and help preserve the invaluable cultural significance and living heritage of the world-renowned Northwest Coast First Nations collection housed within it.
The Curatorial department supports initiatives — including research, exhibitions and publishing — that help to build respectful relationships and mutual understanding with cultural communities represented through MOA’s collections.
MOA is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of culturally diverse ways of knowing the world through challenging and innovative programs and partnerships with Indigenous, local and global communities.
MOA supports the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including originating communities’ right to “maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression.”
The Museum of Anthropology is situated on the traditional land of the Musqueam people. In 2011, the MOA and the Musqueam celebrated the official naming of the Welcome Plaza xʷəńiwən ce:p kʷθəθ nəὠeyəɬ, “Remember your teachings.” The Welcome Plaza features artworks by Musqueam artists: Salish Footprint by Susan Point and Transformation by Joe Becker. Adjacent to the Welcome Plaza stands an Ancestor Figure by Susan Point.
Featuring sculptures, textiles, bentwood boxes, feast dishes and canoes from the Northwest Coast, the Great Hall is a spectacular space created by 15 metre high walls of glass and displays large poles, house posts and carved figures, mostly from the mid-19th century. Works by contemporary artists are also featured including Welcome Figure by Nuu-chah-nulth artist Joe David, Bone Box by Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, and yaahl kingnganggang (Raven Calling) by Haida artist Robert Davidson.
Explore the Great Hall online in its original state in the 360° virtual tour below, or click here to view. (Best experienced in full-screen view. Click and drag to align the swirl-cursor with the target circles for a closer look and to read more about the massive carvings.)
These galleries house thousands of objects from the Museum’s worldwide research collections. MOA has worked with members of the communities whose relatives and ancestors made the pieces on display. Community members also helped to organize the collections using their own classification systems. The exhibit cases are designed to provide maximum visual access to the objects. Innovative Digital Catalogue Terminals (MOACAT) provide additional collection including images, audio and video at the touch of a screen. Embedded within the Multiversity Galleries is a Presentation Circle featuring a series of short, informative videos.
Bill Reid Rotunda
MOA has the world’s largest collection of works by Haida artist Bill Reid. The Bill Reid Rotunda displays his famous sculpture The Raven and the First Men as well as some of his other works in gold, silver, argillite and wood. With the assistance of several other artists, Reid created this massive work out of a giant block of laminated yellow cedar. It was commissioned by Walter and Marianne Koerner and unveiled by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1980. It depicts a moment in the ancestral past of the Haida people when Raven found the first humans in a clamshell on the beach. For many years, this work was featured on the Canadian $20 dollar bill.
Koerner European Ceramics Gallery
This gallery features more than 600 European ceramics collected by Dr. Walter C. Koerner. The collection contains examples of tin-glazed and lead-glazed earthenware and stoneware from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Some pieces are considered to be the finest in North America, and the collection as a whole is unique in the world. Specially commissioned ceramics and textiles by contemporary Vancouver artists highlight the beauty and artistry of the collection as a whole.
Along the path to the back of the museum are two massive houseboards carved by Musqueam artist Susan Point in 1997. The grounds behind the museum feature a Haida House and Mortuary House constructed by Haida artist Bill Reid and ‘Namgis artist Doug Cranmer and modeled on a 19th century Haida village. The buildings sit beside the Yosef Wosk Reflecting Pool, which provides a dynamic presence that animates the site and reflects the ever-changing sky. Around the pool are memorial and mortuary poles dating from 1951 to the present carved by Jim Hart (Haida), Chief Walter Harris (Gitxsan) and Mungo Martin (Kwakwaka’wakw).