Museum of Anthropology

Perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean, this impressive museum is dedicated to understanding global cultures.

The Museum of Anthropology, located on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver houses one of the most extensive collections of anthropological items in the world. Walk among a forest of totem poles, wood carvings, and one-of-a kind artifacts to get an understanding of the creative ingenuity of cultures from all over the world. There are more than 500,000 artifacts in all. 

The museum’s focus is global, with objects from Africa, Indonesia, Oceania, China and India. You’ll also find great exhibits celebrating the varied cultural past of British Columbia. Exhibits commemorating the region’s indigenous people include vast collections of art and artifacts from the First Nations of Coastal British Columbia. Ritual masks, elaborately decorated canoes, beautifully carved figures, and jewelry are on show.

Other highlights include two reconstructed Haida houses. The Haida are an indigenous nation of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The traditional buildings were focal points of Haida social, economic, and political life.

Don’t miss the museum’s massive carved wooden doors and Haida artist Bill Reid's magnificent masterpiece, The Raven and the First Men. This huge sculpture in yellow cedar depicts a Haida creation myth.

From its humble beginnings in 1947 when the University of British Columbia stored it’s collection of ethnographic artifacts in the basement of the main library, the museum has grown both in reputation and in physical size. The current museum was designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson and includes exhibition space, storage facilities, a resource library, and teaching laboratory. The soaring glass panels create a smooth transition from the interior space to outdoors and bathe many of the exhibits in natural light.

There’s a cafe for a light breakfast or lunch, and the gift shop features a good selection of original Northwest coast jewelry, masks, carvings, baskets and other crafts.

The Museum of Anthropology is a 20-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, and parking is available. It’s also accessible by public transportation.

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