Museum of Anthropology at UBC

(detail of totem in Great Hall – I love the circles of figures wrapped around the pole)

For the past few days we have been showing off our lovely city to some family visiting from Europe. One of the highlights was The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

The building alone is wonderful to see, designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson**, who took his inspiration from traditional northern Northwest Coast post-and-beam style architecture. The Museum’s soaring glass walls and spectacular setting – on the cliffs of Point Grey overlooking mountains and sea – are uniquely suited to the Museum’s extraordinary collection of massive Northwest Coast totem poles, carved boxes, bowls and feast dishes, as well as diverse objects from around the world.

I always love revisiting the Great Hall beneath which stand towering totem poles from the Haida, Gitxsan, Nisga’a, and other First Nations and especially the Rotunda, where Bill Reid’s massive sculpture, “The Raven and the First Men” is displayed. Take a peek around the MOA with this Virtual Tour.

There is a great deal to see at MOA, but another particular favourite was Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge, Recent Works by Renowned Haida Artist. This exhibition, put together with the National Gallery of Canada and others, show his sculptures and paintings. Davidson’s statement resonated with me: My passion is reconnecting with my ancestors’ knowledge. The philosophy is what bred art, and now the art has become the catalyst for us to explore the philosophy.

His contemporary work moves between the abstract and the old traditions. The creative freedom he grants himself comes from his experience in helping to restore the place of art within ceremonial practice – and with it the understanding that ‘culture’ can be both inherited and newly imagined. (museum statement)

Then, to finish on a high note, an exciting moment in MOA’s bookstore, I found this beautiful book:
Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic
by Norman Hallendy. I could not resist it after just recently writing about Inuit Places of Power.

** Additional links of interest on Arthur Erickson:
some great buildings
a fan’s site

August 10, 2004 in Anthropology, Art Exhibitions, Other artists by Marja-Leena