While in Vancouver last week, one of the places we visited was the incredible Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
Besides the wonderful architecture, one of the most compelling features of this museum is the accessibility of its collections. In most museums, visitors can only see what's being featured on display at any particular time. But at the MOA, what might be considered the storage area in most museums is accessible to the public. Huge cases of masks, fashion, baskets, pottery, jewelry and more can be seen. Drawers full of objects can be slid open. Several computers are available to search for items of interest. It's all quite open. For a taste of what you can search and see, take a look at their online collections site.
Near the entry to this area of the museum, I was pleased to find a sweater in a case. It was knitted around 1950 by a Coast Salish/Musqueam woman named Christine Charles. The online collection entry for this sweater states that like most artists in her community, she learned to knit solely by observation. It's really quite beautiful -- the bird figures on the front represent swallows. As we were looking at this lovely garment, someone who appeared to be a docent at the museum approached us. He had really cool swirling tattos around his lower jaw and chin. He asked what we thought. "It's really beautiful," I commented. He beamed, nodded, and said, "My grandma made that!"
If you are ever in Vancouver, do make time to visit this place. Who knows what cool stuff you'll see or what interesting people you'll meet?
We had such a great time in British Columbia. I've posted some pictures from our trip, roughly in the order they were taken, if you want to take a look.