Museum of Vancouver: Bringing Collectively the Metropolis’s Numerous Tales

Part of the exhibition That Which Sustains Us
Credit score: Rebecca Blissett

Originating in 1894, the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) has seen appreciable evolution, simply as the town it represents has expanded and diversified over time.

The thought for the museum began with the formation of the Artwork, Historic and Scientific Affiliation, which exhibited footage and curios, corresponding to a stuffed trumpeter swan, in Alderman Dunn’s constructing on Granville Road. The exhibition quickly shifted to a extra everlasting location, with donations pouring in from throughout the nation to be housed on the museum.

Viviane Gosselin, Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Curator of Up to date Tradition at MOV, explains that, like many museums, the early Metropolis Museum very a lot was about educating individuals by way of the collections that have been made up of ‘artefacts’ dropped at Vancouver from all around the globe. On the time, historical past and a way of Vancouver was situated and preserved in the Museum.

Nevertheless, a century later, with a number of location modifications and a reputation change in 2009 to the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), the mandate has shifted significantly. Situated on the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, in what’s presently often known as Vanier Park, MOV performs an important function in serving to Vancouverites perceive themselves, in addition to share who they’re to these visiting the town.

Gosselin says that one major shift has been to new understandings of the place tales and historical past are located. “All of the data is on the market and never within the Museum. The Museum turns into a spot for facilitating contemporary understandings of what Vancouver is,” Gosselin says.

In different phrases, as an alternative of focusing completely on static objects from the previous from its collections, MOV is a gathering level for various, inclusive tales of Vancouver, whether or not in varied particular person data holders or as a part of the collective experiences and understandings of a given group. Lots of these narratives weren’t acknowledged beforehand due to the standard means through which museums used to function, which frequently offered one authoritative model of the previous.

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For instance, A Seat on the Desk (operating till April 3, 2023) tells the tales of Chinese language Canadians in British Columba, utilizing meals and eating places as an organizing metaphor. Prior to now, Chinese language Canadians didn’t have a seat on the desk of presidency, for instance, and different positions invested with energy as a consequence of systemic racial discrimination. This exhibition is an instance of how MOV linked with Vancouver’s various and multi-generational Chinese language Canadian group in an effort to entry reminiscences and data associated to their resilience and success throughout the metropolis.

One other exhibition that showcases the richness of Vancouver’s Chinese language diasporic populations is All We Need Is Extra: The Tobias Wong Venture (till July 23, 2023). Wong, who was born and raised in Vancouver, died tragically in 2010 in his 30s after having fun with a formidable profession as a boundary-pushing artist in New York Metropolis. MOV has created a retrospective exhibition on his life, his important expertise, in addition to the impression of his work, which critiqued client tradition and the use and worth of on a regular basis objects. Gosselin describes how the exhibition brings collectively “a constellation of views” from individuals all around the globe, corresponding to within the US and Europe, to get their ideas on Wong’s legacy. Greater than 70 works from the Wong Property assortment are additionally included within the exhibition, which examines the advanced affect of 1 younger Vancouverite, each in life and after loss of life.

View of the doorway of All We Need is Extra: The Tobias Wong Venture
Credit score: Rebecca Blissett

The MOV has 4 pillars that information the best way they interact with data of the town: redress and decolonization; immigration and variety; setting and sustainability; and concrete and modern points. Whereas these pillars help in telling tales about Vancouver’s previous—usually from a brand new viewpoint—in addition they deal with greater than historical past. “We’re accumulating totally different views on what Vancouver was, is, and must be,” Gosselin says. In different phrases, MOV captures the previous and current vibrancy of Vancouver in addition to creates exhibitions which can be forward-thinking, encouraging dialog and thought on the town’s future.

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One vital exhibition works at righting a unsuitable of the previous for a extra hopeful future. c̓əsnaʔəm: The Metropolis Earlier than the Metropolis spotlights an ancestral village that had appreciable significance for the Musqueam individuals. The village was situated in south Vancouver, roughly in what’s now Marpole. The Artwork, Historic, and Scientific Affiliation excavated historic burial websites of the village within the Twenties and 30s and claimed bone, shell, and stone objects for the Museum’s collections.

Part of the exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm: The Metropolis Earlier than the Metropolis
Credit score: Rebecca Blissett

The current exhibition acknowledges the harm that was executed by way of this taking (and discarding) of Musqueam belongings, in addition to acknowledges and celebrates the vital historical past embedded on this land and the important relationship that Musqueam individuals had and nonetheless have with it. The Metropolis Earlier than the Metropolis invitations guests to contemplate what existed earlier than Vancouver got here into being, how Vancouver has developed, in addition to how the Musqueam individuals have continued to nurture their holistic connection to this territory. The exhibition invitations sharing and studying concerning the place that’s now referred to as Vancouver.

One other exhibition, That Which Sustains Us, will get guests to contemplate totally different relationships with forests and the pure world. “Earlier than European settlers got here, forests have been on the territory that we now know of as Larger Vancouver, and people forests have been managed by Indigenous communities,” Gosselin says. It seems at Indigenous peoples relationship with native nature, the results of deforestation, and alternatives for rewilding.

Part of the exhibition That Which Sustains Us
Credit score: Rebecca Blissett

Gosselin is especially enthusiastic about an upcoming exhibition Reclaim + Restore: The Mahogany Venture (opening July 19, 2023), which aligns with their setting and sustainability pillar. “It emphasizes that social and environmental justice are interconnected dimensions,” she says. Curated by Propellor Studio, the exhibition invited native designers and makers to submit a proposal for repurposing classic mahogany offered by MOV (beforehand utilized by a boating gear firm).

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Twenty-one initiatives submitted by designers/artists corresponding to Becki Chan and Brent Comber have been chosen. The consequence shall be all types of gorgeous mahogany creations, together with surf boards and musical devices. The intention is to showcase waste discount by way of upcycling in addition to help reforestation efforts in Nicaragua and Guatemala (the supply of the mahogany) by donating a portion of the gross sales of the creations to those initiatives.

Sketch of Odisea, one of many items included within the exhibition Reclaim + Restore: The Mahogany Venture. Odisea is a pendant mild commemorating the passage of the mahogany from its origins in Guatemala and Nicaragua to Canada.  Credit score: Angelica Jung, Smll Studio (Benny Kwok, Mira Yung)

MOV can also be within the technique of redeveloping their historic galleries. Lots of them are outdated and premised on telling the story of the colonization of the province by Europeans. New galleries will contain consultations and partnerships with Indigenous data holders in addition to group members, along with conversations with different various communities that make up Vancouver.

Gosselin says that earlier exhibitions tended to be centralized when it comes to design and content material, whereas newer ones are collaborative and interactional. “It’s about being humble concerning the data on the market, and the generosity of individuals,” she says. MOV makes certain to compensate data holders pretty for his or her time and work however is grateful for his or her willingness to share their tales with employees in addition to guests to the museum. Lots of MOV’s exhibitions have come about when individuals from various communities have approached MOV with ideas about narratives price exploring.

General, by way of its many exhibitions, programming, and academic work, MOV is contributing to wealthy conversations and understandings about Vancouver’s previous, current, and future.

Extra details about MOV and exhibitions will be discovered right here.

By Tara Lee
Supply Inside Vancouver