Founded in 1947 and located in a breathtaking setting at the University of British Columbia (UBC), this museum houses one of the world’s finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art. Here you’ll also find European ceramics, Asian textiles, Greek and Roman pottery, and African masks, as well as many full-size totem poles and contemporary carvings. The magnificent building, designed by Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, is a historic work of art inspired by the post-and-beam structures of northern Northwest Coast First Nations.
6393 NW Marine Dr • 604 822 5087 • www.moa.ubc.ca • Open 10am–5pm daily (to 9pm Thu); winter: closed Mon • Adm adults $18, seniors & students $16, under-6s free, flat fee 5–9pm Thu $10
On the museum’s outdoor welcome plaza stands a red cedar welcome figure holding a fisher (an animal believed to have healing powers). It was created by Musqueam artist Susan Point.
These boxes, used for cooking as well as storage, are made in a very special way. The four sides are composed of one piece of cedar, which is steamed and bent to form the shape of the box before the base is added.
Two full-size Haida Houses stand outside, surrounded by a forest of soaring, full-scale totem poles. They were designed in 1962 by contemporary Haida artist Bill Reid and Namgis artist Doug Cramer.
Beneath the 49-ft (15-m) glass walls of the Great Hall are showcased towering totem poles from many First Nations. The glass and concrete structure of the hall provides a perfect setting for the poles.
This massive sculpture, by Bill Reid, is one of the most famous carvings in the world. It shows the figure of Raven (a wise yet mischievous trickster) discovering the first Haida humans and coaxing them out into the world from a giant clamshell.
These ornate necklaces form part of the museum’s founding collection of South Pacific materials, donated in 1927 by Canadian explorer Frank Burnett.
Housed in the classical pottery collection, this cup was made in Greece in 540–530 BC. It is attributed to the “Centaur Painter,” one of a group of artists well-known for decorating drinking cups used by men in Athens at famous symposia or loud drinking parties.
The centerpiece of the Koerner Ceramics Gallery is a stove from Central or Eastern Europe, around 1500–1600. Its lead-glazed tiles depict popular religious figures of the time.
These massive doors were carved from red cedar in 1976 by Gitxsan artists from the ‘Ksan Historical Village. They tell the story of the first people of the Skeena River region in British Columbia.
Weaving has always been important for Salish people – woven objects from 4,500 years ago have been excavated at Musqueam. This display revitalizes and pays homage to this tradition.
The museum is built on three World War II gun emplacements, which were incorporated into the design of the building. Two are located outside the grounds, one of which is the platform for Bill Reid’s Raven. A maze of secret tunnels connects the bunkers under the building.