In addition to its regular displays in its building, MONOVA also hosts guided walking tours around the Shipyards District in the summer.
NOTE: Admission to the museum is free on Monday, February 19th. To celebrate Family Day, there are also performances, demonstrations and other activities.
This article contains the following information about the museum:
Hours and Admission | What to Expect | Feature Exhibit Gallery | Streetcar 153 | MONOVA’s Permanent Collection | MONOVA Video | Shipyard Pals | Accessibility and Parking | Other Things in the Area | Other Information
MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver
Located at 115 West Esplanade in the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood on Vancouver’s North Shore, MONOVA is the Lower Mainland’s newest museum. Stories told here include ones about life during the world wars, how the Shipyards worked, the early lumber industry and local Indigenous peoples.
The place showcases permanent collections of North Vancouver artifacts including an original streetcar (or tram) from 1908. It also features exhibits that change from time to time.
MONOVA is in a modern 16,000 square-foot facility that was built and designed specifically for the museum. At a cost of $8.5 million, it’s an impressive attraction!
Hours and Admission
As of early 2024, MONOVA is open on Thursdays from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm. The museum is also open on Wednesday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Single ticket prices are as follows:
- Adults (ages 18 to 64) – $14
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $12
- Youth (ages 6 to 17) and Students – $10
- Little kids (ages 5 and under) – Free
- Families (2 adults or seniors and 3 children) – $38
- Indigenous people – Free
Museum passes are also available and include unlimited admission for one year and access to exclusive events. Members can also bring guests at discounted rates and enjoy 10% off at the store. MONOVA passes cost the following:
- Adults (ages 18 to 64) – $33.33
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $28.57
- Youth (ages 6 to 17) and Students – $23.81
- Families (two adults or seniors and three children) – $71.43
Note: Prices above are subject to change.
What to Expect
The museum is a place for multimedia exhibits, innovative programs and events. It showcases North Vancouver’s history as well as stories about the region’s present and future.
At the museum expect to find interactive displays. It’s not a place where you just look at things. It also offers tactile and interactive ways to experience the region’s history, neighbourhoods, culture and people. (Note: Because of COVID in recent years, the exhibits have been less hands-on than originally planned.)
Inside the museum, near the entrance, there is the restored Streetcar 153 which used to run up and down Lonsdale Avenue (much like how streetcars still operate on the hilly roads of San Francisco today). Also near the entrance to the museum is the gift shop.
Other than the streetcar, most of the museum’s exhibits are in one of two rooms. There is a large gallery where you’ll find MONOVA’s permanent displays. There is also a smaller gallery with temporary exhibits that change over time.
Feature Exhibit Gallery
The Feature Exhibit Gallery is a new area at the museum as of late 2022. It opened on December 8th that year. The gallery is where you’ll find the museum’s temporary exhibits which change from time to time.
You Are Here @ The Shipyards is the first exhibit in the Feature Exhibit Gallery. It showcases what the Shipyards was like in its early days and its transformation, growth and development. In the room there are informational displays, a couple of display cases, a model ship, and artifacts including a bicycle, piano and a few pieces of antique furniture. There is also a film showing on one of the walls.
In the You Are Here @ The Shipyards exhibit, you’ll learn about the Squamish village of Eslhá7an, the origins of the Paddle Song, early settlers, ferry services, and that the waterfront has changed a lot over the years. The exhibit is on until January, 2024.
MONOVA’s largest and, arguably, it’s most valuable and interesting exhibit is Streetcar 153. It has been lovingly restored to its original look. Visitors can climb on board and imagine themselves back in time.
Interestingly, years ago North Vancouver had streetcars running all over the place. They went up Grand Boulevard, to the End of the Line Store (near the entrance to Lynn Headwaters), past the Capilano Suspension Bridge and through multiple other parts of the North Shore. Streetcar 153 operated between 1912 and 1946.
MONOVA’s Permanent Collection
The main gallery at the museum is a good size. It’s not huge, but it’s not small either. It’s a similar size to the Museum of Surrey, but smaller than the Museum of Vancouver and Vancouver Maritime Museum.
The space at MONOVA is nicely designed and features a mix of artifacts, pictures, photos, stories, video displays and written information.
In the main gallery you’ll learn about the local Indigenous communities (on whose unceded ancestral lands the museum and all of North Vancouver now stand). You’ll also learn about North Vancouver’s rich maritime and shipbuilding history, its movie industry, its economy, its sports heroes, and all kinds of interesting information about the region.
To give you a good idea of what the museum looks like, check out the following video. It shows scenes of the venue’s core exhibit gallery, Streetcar 153 and gift shop area. Not shown in the video are the museum’s Community Space and temporary exhibit area.
As you’ll see in the video, there is a good selection of things to see and read about. There are also fun things for children to enjoy.
Shipyard Sal and Shipyard Sam are a pair of theatrical tour guides in period costume who take visitors on tours around the Shipyards District. The tours happen in the summer months between early June and late September. They are free of charge and highly recommended! The tours are fun, educational and entertaining.
Tours with the Shipyard Pals happen twice a day on Wednesdays and Sundays. The first tour each day is at 11:00 am and the second one is at 1:00 pm. In 2023 the tours ran from June 4th until September 27th.
To learn more about the tours, see our article about Shipyard Pals.
Museum Accessibility and Parking
Being in a new and modern building, the museum is wheelchair accessible. Located close to Lonsdale Quay, it’s also convenient to get to. The SeaBus and main bus terminal are just a five-minute walk away.
If you drive to the museum you’ll find free parking on the surrounding streets (if you’re lucky and there’s a spot available). There is also pay parking at the Lonsdale Quay Public Market, at the nearby Pinnacle Hotel, in the ICBC parkade across the street, and underground at the Shipyards.
Other Things to See and Do In the Area
Other places of interest near the Museum of North Vancouver include the following (all of which are within a five-minute walk away):
Many events take place nearby at different times of the year. Some happen at Lonsdale Quay, some at the Shipyards and others at nearby Waterfront Park. The Shipyards Night Market, for example, occurs on Friday evenings from May until September most years. Live music also often takes place at Shipbuilders’ Square on Saturday evenings in the summer.
For a list of other events and things to do in the area see our article about the City and District of North Vancouver.
Visit the MONOVA website for more information about what to expect at the Museum of North Vancouver.
The museum joins the Archives of North Vancouver under the MONOVA brand. The archives are located at 3203 Institute Road in Lynn Valley (which is about a 15-minute drive away).
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver Places for History and Culture
- Museum of Vancouver
- Rainy Day Activities
- North Vancouver
- Vancouver Activities for Children
- Educational Places in the Lower Mainland