Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Field Trip to the Museum of Anthropology

Hi All,

Please post any thoughts, memories, impressions, poems, pictures, videos, etc from your visit to the Museum of Anthropology!



  1. I found our fieldtrip to the Museum of Anthropology to be incredibly interesting and thought provoking. I have always been fascinated by other cultures, traditions and practices, but I haven’t pursued this interest in great depth. Visiting the Museum of Anthropology inspired me to learn more about these ways of living, as I find that they all have ideas and values that everyone can benefit from being exposed to. I found the importance of First Nation’s art to be particularly interesting. They express feelings, tell stories and share history, display symbols and identify themselves through art. It is such a crucial aspect of their lives, and not only is it used for display, their artwork is often used in daily life; for example, as tools. The prevalence of artwork in First Nation’s culture is an important way to incorporate stories and history into daily life, so that their presences are not forgotten. The use of artwork to share these stories has led to their importance (or perhaps vice versa; the importance of stories has led to the use of artwork) in First Nation’s culture, which I find to be very interesting. An example of this that I saw at the Museum is Bill Reid’s “The Raven and the First Men”. The sculpture represents a story of how humans came to be. Although modern, it displays how a story can be created through a piece of art, and the importance of that story can be seen through the presence of that piece of art, sometimes throughout many generations.
    While at the Museum of Anthropology, I also enjoyed looking at the difference artifacts from other cultures around the world. The differences between styles and mediums of art in different cultures was very interesting; ranging from soapstone carvings to hats made of wood shavings. The ways that different cultures express themselves through art differ significantly, yet in many cases, the goal is similar; to create a tangible item that represents the values, stories and important unique aspects of that culture. I would really enjoy going back to the Museum to look at some of these pieces in greater detail.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks for sharing your excellent thoughts, Jennifer! I hope you'll get a chance to go back to the MOA again :)

  2. This was my first time visiting the Museum of Anthropology! I had learned a lot of new information about the First Nations culture from the visit. I learned the different sculpting styles of a few First Nations tribes. Then I was attracted by the knick-knacks at the side of the museum. There, I found different musical instruments each First Nations tribe used, different utensils to eat with, different hunting tools, different clothing and accessories each tribe wore during different occasions, and different items that entertained the First Nations people. While I was dazzled by the differences between the tribes, something familiar caught my attention. At a distance, I thought they were two ordinary chess game sets, so I wondered why the museum displayed them. But then when I walked closer, I noticed the details of each game piece; instead of the usual pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king, there were birds, igloos, wolves, bears, a woman, and a man. These figures symbolized the Inuit tribe of the First Nations, which was where this game was originated. I thought these game sets were very unique, as they combined the past with the present, and the First Nations culture with the European culture.

    Here's a link to some pictures of the chess game sets:

  3. Very interesting observations, Yolanda! Well done! Thanks for sharing!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This was my first time visiting the Museum of Anthropology, and I found it very interesting! I especially liked the story of the First Men of the Haida Tribe. The story goes; Raven walked along the sand of a beach after the great flood. And in the corner of his eye, he spotted a flash of white. It was a gigantic clamshell half buried in the sand. The clamshell was full of little frightened creatures, which came to be known as the first humans or the original Haidas.
    Beside the story was the large wooden illustration of it. Bill Reid, a Haida artist, carved his interpretation of the Raven approaching the small dwellers in the shell. This piece was magnificently done. I think it is important to have culture and I liked to hear the different beliefs and views, especially on their take on how the first humans came to be. I think that is why I enjoyed my visit so much. I also admired the many totem poles in the museum. Another thing that stood out to me was the masks. The masks were made for ceremonies and celebrations of all kinds. The detail and effort on most of the masks was incredibly done. Something that also caught my attention was the motorcycle completely woven out of a straw like material. It was amazing to think someone did that which their own 2 hands. It was very evident that art plays a major role in the aboriginal culture. This is their way of telling stories and expressing feelings. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I was happy to learn more about the aboriginal culture, I would definitely visit again!

    Here is a picture of the Raven and the First Men:

  6. After my excellent experience, I will make an effort to visit more in the future. Having learned a little bit about the First Nations and other indigenous peoples of Canada in secondary school, I feel fortunate to visually see the artifacts on display at Museum of Anthropology (MOA) that I remembered reading about in texts in school; this gave me some new insight to the culture and life of native peoples in north America. That aside, I highly recommend MOA. The wood carvings, and in particular, the totem poles and Bill Reid's The Raven and the First Men, are awe-inspiring.

    I was surprised to find skulls on a 6 foot tall wooden carving meeting me at the door to this museum because these images are rarely seen in First Nation art. I soon realized it was part of the Paradise Lost? Contemporary Works from the Pacific exhibit and there was a clan pole from Papua New Guinea.
    But then down the wide ramp and to the left, on one of the 9 panels making up the interesting interactive work Bone Box by the Haida artist Michael Nicoli Yahqulanaas, contemporary paintings on discarded collection trays was what looked like skulls along with flayed human skins hanging from a sword the shape of a Christian cross.

    The heart and soul of this magnificent museum, however, is the Multiversity Galleries, down the wide ramp and to the right. The galleries are packed with hundreds of objects from around the world filling hundreds of shelves in glass cases. I was in absolute awe of all the artifacts that I got lost in them and I believe that is the purpose of the museum; for us to view and get trapped in a time that warrants visualisation from art in order to experience what life was like in a much simpler time.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.


  8. The very first time I went to the Museum of Anthropology, was in fifth grade and I would have to say that re- visiting the museum after nine years was fascinating. I faintly remember what I saw and learned previously because I showed little interest in the random exhibits that were offered. Moreover, staring at 20 foot tall logs that were carved with meaningless creatures was a total bore. Going back to the museum was rewarding and taking in what I learned that day made a lot more sense. The totem poles, hand-carved by the First Nations were not the same old trunks from trees, but they had significant stories to tell.
    I enjoyed weaving through the different galleries with my phone in hand, ready to take any snap shots of eye- opening objects; the museum displayed objects varying from unique clothing to fine- detailed pieces that originated from various cultures. My personal favourites were the lead- glazed stove from Germany, in the European Ceramics Gallery and the traditional pieces that were shown in the Korean section of the Multiversity Gallery. It is astonishing to see a stove that is not constructed out of stainless steel, but by detailed stone tiles that towered over one another. I would have never guessed it was a stove, if it was not for the sign that described what it was. Within the European Ceramics Gallery, I also loved examining the dinner sets because the floral accents on the kitchenware were exquisite. If I had possession over one of the dinner sets, I would not dare to eat or drink from them. On the other hand, the traditional Korean pieces were intriguing. I love to immerse myself in the Korean culture because it mesmerizes me; I love their entertainment, their food, and their language. Many of the traditional pieces that were at the museum had been shown in several historical dramas that I have watched, hence it was exciting to see them in real life. Lastly, I loved the fact that the museum allowed us to take pictures. If I ever get the chance to go the museum again, I would definitely re-visit with my camera fully- charged!

  9. At first, I thought it was my first time visiting the Museum of Anthropology. However, I felt this familiarity when I stepped through those doors. I had this odd feeling like I had been there before, though unable to recall when, déja vu? Anyways, I enjoyed the variety of artworks the museum had to offer. I particularly liked the totem poles. Each had a unique assembly of different animals situated on top of one another, which I though was interesting. I can only imagine the amount of work that was put into the making of those totem poles and work force needed to erect them. Of course, the iconic “Raven and the First Men” yellow cedar carving was breath-taking. While I was there, I noticed a certain familiarity with the carving. I realized that I had seen Bill Reid’s carving depicted on the old Canadian twenty dollar bill. I knew it looked familiar, but couldn’t make it out until I saw the carving in person. I also enjoyed the Multiversity Gallery with all the different works of art from around the world. Maybe some time in the future, I will revisit the Museum of Anthropology and give my greetings to the raven once more.

  10. At first glance I thought it was a pretty boring place but after going further and exploring, I found the place to be a lot more interesting. Some of the things there, like the masks, really spooked me. The giant window panels were really nice and I liked how it let a lot of light come in. I thought that the paddles for the canoes were giant spoons and I got laughed at. I followed a guide with a crowd of other people and they introduced us to the various displays of artwork. What I found to be the most interesting was the giant stove that turned green. It was no ordinary stove, the design and artwork on it made it seem like it belonged to a royal family of european background. In the same room were different sets of tableware which all looked very fancy and high class. Walking through the section with all the different cultures from around the world was fascinating and I found some of the Chinese ones to be familiar.
    And of course you haven't actually been to the museum of anthropology until you've seen the carving of the Raven and the First Men. It seemed more majestic and intimidating in person and there was even a miniature version of it.

  11. This was my first time visiting the Museum of Anthropology. I cannot believe I spent an entire month at UBC without thinking of going there. When I first arrived, I immediately noticed how light and open the museum was with its enormous windows. I found this quite intriguing because it somewhat made me feel like I was outside and not in a typical museum. The first thing that caught my eye were the large totem poles. I found it quite fascinating that First Nations used them to represent their families and culture. They were incredibly detailed, and they obviously required a high level of skill to carve. There were many different galleries at the museum. I enjoyed looking at all of the dinner sets. Outside one of the galleries, there were humanlike structures made up of many different pieces of ceramics. It was quite interesting how the artist had designed them from scraps found on the banks of the Fraser River, pieces found in family cupboards, and tiles from the city dump. It showed me that art can be made up of anything we can find. We just need to be creative. Another thing I enjoyed at the museum was the carving of the clamshell and the Raven. It was interesting to read the story of the First Men of the Haida Tribe. I have seen pictures of the carving before, but it still took my breath away when I saw it. Lastly, I was quite interested in someone of the ceramic masks on display. They were quite detailed and creative. It made me think about a ceramics class I took in the past, and how I made a few masks of my own. Overall going to the Museum of Anthropology was worth it, and I hope to visit again in the future.