The UBC Museum of Anthropology is located in British Columbia on Canada’s West Coast by the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This museum has marvelous things to show you and you should come and find out about them. This is an ideal place to learn about Canada’s First Nations and its other cultures as well.
The UBC Museum of Anthropology is located in British Columbia on Canada’s West Coast by the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This museum has marvelous things to show you and you should come and find out about them. This is an ideal place to learn about Canada’s First Nations and its other cultures as well.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Museum of Anthropology

The Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver Canada

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UBC Museum of Anthropology

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


This portion of the virtual exhibition looks at the museum’s Image Recovery Project. Using infra-red photography, centuries-old paintings on Northwest Coast objects, once obscured and darkened through the passage of time, are again becoming visible. Not only does this enhance knowledge about the past, but it also gives contemporary artists access to a whole new world of forgotten images and designs.
This portion of the virtual exhibition looks at the museum’s Image Recovery Project. Using infra-red photography, centuries-old paintings on Northwest Coast objects, once obscured and darkened through the passage of time, are again becoming visible. Not only does this enhance knowledge about the past, but it also gives contemporary artists access to a whole new world of forgotten images and designs.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

exhibition

Transforming Image Exhibition

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UBC Museum of Anthropology

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The Museum of Anthropology's award-winning Image Recovery Project has also brought together in photographic form, painted artifacts that are now scattered in museum and private collections throughout the world.
The Museum of Anthropology's award-winning Image Recovery Project has also brought together in photographic form, painted artifacts that are now scattered in museum and private collections throughout the world.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

In recent times, master carvers such as Haida artist Tahaygen (Charles Edenshaw, 1839-1920) and Kwakwaka’wakw artist Heyhlamas (Willie Seaweed, 1873-1967) were educated in all aspects of their art by senior masters, often fathers or uncles.

A carver was often chosen as a child to be trained in his art. He was guided and taught in the technical aspects of carving and painting. He was also given the spiritual and social knowledge of which art was an expression.

This apprenticeship system has continued.
In recent times, master carvers such as Haida artist Tahaygen (Charles Edenshaw, 1839-1920) and Kwakwaka’wakw artist Heyhlamas (Willie Seaweed, 1873-1967) were educated in all aspects of their art by senior masters, often fathers or uncles.

A carver was often chosen as a child to be trained in his art. He was guided and taught in the technical aspects of carving and painting. He was also given the spiritual and social knowledge of which art was an expression.

This apprenticeship system has continued.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

When we look at paintings such as these -- 18th and 19th century paintings from the northern Northwest Coast of British Columbia -- we see them through our eyes, the eyes of strangers.

These paintings are expressions from another time and place. They are images whose poetry intrigues us, whose deeper meanings retain their mystery.

What is the possibility of knowing these paintings? Can we understand their layers of meaning? Can we grasp the artistic process by which the individual painter of another century created his works?
When we look at paintings such as these -- 18th and 19th century paintings from the northern Northwest Coast of British Columbia -- we see them through our eyes, the eyes of strangers.

These paintings are expressions from another time and place. They are images whose poetry intrigues us, whose deeper meanings retain their mystery.

What is the possibility of knowing these paintings? Can we understand their layers of meaning? Can we grasp the artistic process by which the individual painter of another century created his works?

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Painting

This painting is on a reconstructed Tsimshian house front. Painting completed at MOA and thensent to the Canadian Museum of Civilisation where is on permanent display.

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UBC Museum of Anthropology

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


From the 1870s until the 1930s, museums in North America and Europe acquired thousands and thousands of Northwest Coast artifacts.

Many of the Northwest Coast objects that are seen in museums today were obtained through purchase or trade. It is also important to note that many of these were also stolen, looted or taken from their owners through practices which are considered unethical and, in cases, illegal.

Chests and boxes, totem poles and masks, rattles, jewelry and other artifacts were crated up and shipped out of First Nations communities. Museums around the world were motivated to collect these objects because they believed that First Nations individuals and communities were doomed to extinction, through disease and through assimilation. The rush was on to collect what was mistakenly considered to be the last remnants of a dying culture.

A century later, First Nations of British Columbia remain, in significant ways, distinct from non-First Nations Canadian society. These dynamic communities are distinct both culturally and politically.

As a result of changing relations between museums and First Nations, many objects in museum c Read More
From the 1870s until the 1930s, museums in North America and Europe acquired thousands and thousands of Northwest Coast artifacts.

Many of the Northwest Coast objects that are seen in museums today were obtained through purchase or trade. It is also important to note that many of these were also stolen, looted or taken from their owners through practices which are considered unethical and, in cases, illegal.

Chests and boxes, totem poles and masks, rattles, jewelry and other artifacts were crated up and shipped out of First Nations communities. Museums around the world were motivated to collect these objects because they believed that First Nations individuals and communities were doomed to extinction, through disease and through assimilation. The rush was on to collect what was mistakenly considered to be the last remnants of a dying culture.

A century later, First Nations of British Columbia remain, in significant ways, distinct from non-First Nations Canadian society. These dynamic communities are distinct both culturally and politically.

As a result of changing relations between museums and First Nations, many objects in museum collections that were obtained through questionable means have since been returned or repatriated to their rightful owners. This process of repatriation is one which continues to be negotiated today.

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Totem poles in the Great Hall

Haida and Tsimshian totem poles

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UBC Museum of Anthropology

© 1997, Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, Canada and its image recovery project
  • Describe the history of Haida art and its collection
  • Explain the importance of art to Haida culture and reflect on the connection between art and function

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