view from the hill

A look at the elements and events that come into view from where I'm standing...
... the stuff that matters in this life. Some flicker and are gone in a matter of hours
only to live in memory, others become life long travelling companions, never far from reach.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Vancouver Anthropology Museum

villiage3I’m up in Vancouver for the weekend visiting Tiff who’s working on a show here. Yep, once again we’re living separate lives and it ain’t no fun. But at least this time around it’s only a couple hour’s flight, and in the same time zone.

outsideSo, we find ourselves exploring yet another new city, and one of the first places I wanted to see was the Anthropology Museum because it’s filled with totem poles! I love the indigenous art of the Pacific Northwest, so this was a must see. The museum is south of downtown in Kitsilano on the grounds of the University of British Columbia. It was a rainy day when we drove up which added to the mystery of the dark pine trees that greeted us. Once inside we found this place is stacked to the gills with amazing carvings that carry the history and myth of these First Nation tribes. Turns out, this place really is impressive.

ravenThere have been people living in these forests and coastlines for thousands of years, but apart from small flint objects, the oldest surviving artifacts are only a couple hundred years old because they made everything out of wood. Houses, boxes, baskets, masks and clothing are all made from red and yellow cedar. They call it the tree of life for a reason.

villiage1After fully exploring the galleries, we ventured outside into the drizzle where a small coastal village has been built. This was almost more intriguing because outside is where these totem poles are meant to be. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, if the animals depicted in the carving are confused because they’re not facing the sea. Or if they can look in and see their brothers on the inside of the museum behind the wall of glass.

totemBack inside I picked up some great books in the bookstore – of course. What a great introduction to Vancouver. It’s wonderful to be so close to the art of the Pacific Northwest. Next stop is the Vancouver Art Museum for a slightly more contemporary view of life in the Great White North, eh.


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