UBC’s Museum of Anthropology is one of Vancouver’s best places for culture, history, West Coast First Nation artifacts and escapes from the rain.
Museum of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology has an extensive collection of West Coast First Nations artifacts including a number of impressive totem poles and other sculptures. It also has many artifacts from around the world including significant pieces from Africa and the South Pacific.
The Museum of Anthropology can be found at 6393 NW Marine Drive at the University of British Columbia. The museum is located in the northwest region of the UBC campus which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.
The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is open to the public Tuesday to Sunday year round, and on Mondays from mid-May to mid-October.
Admission is roughly $18 for adults and $47 for a family, but free for UBC students and staff, as well as children 6 and under. MOA is also open Thursday evenings, from 5 to 9 pm, at a reduced rate of just $10.
Outside the museum are a couple of impressive Haida longhouses and a collection of totem poles, some of which were carved by celebrated Canadian First Nation artist Bill Reid.
TIP: If you’re looking for some authentic Native Canadian art and can’t find what you’re looking for in the museum gift shop, one of our favourite local artists is Alano Edzerza. His work is available online at www.edzerzagallery.com and includes everything from wood carvings to jewellery, paintings, prints and even his own line of clothing featuring his art. Alano is known internationally for his art, is from the Tahltan Nation in northern BC and creates his art in West Vancouver.
What’s to See at MOA
The Museum of Anthropology’s Great Hall is a beautiful open space with a multi-story wall of glass at one side.
Inside the Great Hall are impressive totem poles, canoes and artifacts from the Gitxsan, Kwakwaka’wakw, Haida, Nisga’a and Coast Salish First Nations. The Great Hall is also where the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival takes place each year in the spring, which is a highly recommended event.
In other areas of the facility MOA has an impressive collection of work by West Coast Haida artist Bill Reid, including his Raven and the First Men piece, which was carved out of yellow cedar. The Museum of Anthropology has the world’s largest collection of Bill Reid’s work in fact. If you want to see more though, then check out the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in downtown Vancouver.
At the Museum of Anthropology there is also a gallery featuring ceramics and other sections with various artifacts showcasing different cultures from around the world, including lots of masks.
TIP #1: Don’t forget to pull out the many drawers at the museum. In addition to what’s on display, there is a lot to see in all the drawers below.
TIP #2: Join one of the complimentary tours. There are usually at least a couple per day, often at 11 am and 2 pm. These ones in particular last for about an hour, are very informative and help you get the most out of the museum and your visit.
TIP #3: Combine your trip to the Museum of Anthropology with a trip to other attractions at UBC including a visit to the UBC Botanical Garden and Japanese-styled Nitobe Memorial Garden, a stroll through beautiful Pacific Spirit Regional Park, a performance at the Chan Centre or just a simple walk around the campus. Also, right outside the museum are wonderful walking trails with views of the Pacific Ocean to enjoy, and between UBC and downtown Vancouver are some of the region’s most beautiful beaches including Jericho, Locarno and Spanish Banks, not to mention “clothing optional” Wreck Beach which is just a short but steep walk from the main campus and MOA.
TIP #4: The Museum of Anthropology is often a participating attraction in Vancouver’s Kidsworld Program where, for a really low membership fee, children ages 4 to 13 can visit dozens of area attractions on specific days at no extra cost. An accompanying adult is also free! It’s a great deal as the cost for the museum for an adult and child over age 6 is about half the price of a full Kidsworld membership! For more information click Kidsworld.
TIP #5: If you are interested in seeing the Museum of Anthropology, UBC Botanical Garden, Nitobe Memorial Garden and Beaty Biodiversity Museum, consider buying the UBC Museums and Gardens Pass for around $33 per adult or $85 for a family. (Just don’t forget that entrance to the Nitobe and UBC Botanical Gardens are by donation for about four months of the year).
TIP #6: In our opinion the best time of the year to visit MOA is during the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival which takes place most years in March at the museum. The festival is usually over a weekend and offers a couple of afternoons of First Nations dance performances included in the regular price of admission. Special evening shows are also offered, at an additional cost, and they are even more impressive.
Click the MOA’s website for further information about the museum and its exhibits.
Other articles you might be interested in include the following:
- Vancouver History and Culture
- Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art – an Indigenous art gallery in downtown Vancouver.
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre – with First Nations’ exhibits in Whistler.
- Lower Mainland First Nations
- Vancouver Rainy Day Activities