Museum of Anthropology
Picnurbia is a pop-up installation of picnic benches and artificial turf at Robson Square as part of VIVA Vancouver. Perhaps installations like this can help us re-evaluate the way we think about public space.
Homelessness. The city's new housing plan reveals that five neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside will be targeted for the construction of homeless shelters and supportive housing.
Renting. The Tyee's Reporting Fellowships are turning out some good stories: this week an in depth series about renovictions and affordable rental housing in Vancouver. Catch them all here.
Humanitarian architecture. Two Vancouver-based architects are recycling the fabric from the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre's old sail roof into projects for Architecture for Humanity.
Community awards. The City of Surrey has launched the City Awards Program, a variety of awards to recognize people for community spirit, clean energy, urban design and beautification.
Cycling infrastructure. Another update on the Coal Harbour seawall connection: it still sucks for cyclists. A little further down the seawall, installing consistent signage and adequate infrastructure for cyclists at Stanley Park doesn't seem to be a high priority either.
Just who are bike thieves anyway? The Dependent talks to bike thieves and learns about the tools of the trade.
Earthquake preparedness. An engineering report has found that both City Hall and it's data are vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake.
Data mapping. The Vancouver Sun has created a series of interactive maps with data from the 2006 census.
The road not taken. Forty years ago Vancouver and Hamilton shared many similarities. Nicholas Kevlahan takes a detailed look at how they diverged.
A year later. Did the Olympics make Vancouver a better city? Lance Bereloqitz and Matt Hern debate in the Tyee.
Another question. Can Vancouver become the ‘best place on Earth’?
At Home. A few months ago the Boseman Hotel became home to several homeless people as part of a Canada-wide study about the effects of providing housing for the homeless. An article in the Vancouver Sun looks at it’s progress so far.
Suburban and invisible. More on the changing face of homelessnessness. At a time when great strides are being made to address homelessness in Vancouver, the problem is growing in nearby municipalities. Megaphone takes a look.
The Forgotten. I highly recommend having a look at this series of articles on the Vancouver Observer about the Museum of Anthropology’s cancelled exhibit about the missing women of the DTES and the challenges of exploring such a difficult issue both through art and in a museum setting.
Olympic Village Plan B. Reduce prices and maintenance fees, sell selected condos and rent out others, and rename the whole thing “The Village on False Creek.” Hopefully that will get people to finally live there.
Image: kennymatic, via flickr.
Here’s that post I’ve been promising—long overdue! Consider this the last entry on the collecting-practices talk we hosted a couple weeks back, where we invited museum directors from the city’s west side—what Dr. Anthony Shelton of the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) refers to as the “other side”—to discuss their most recent acquisitions.
First, there was MOV’s Nancy Noble discussing the myriad changes we’ve made in recent months (a Q&A based on her presentation is found here). She also discussed the challenges of managing a collection that often reflects the “colonial wanderings” of Vancouver residents, rather than our new direction as a museum of Vancouver. Our name change wasn’t mere wordplay.
Then there was Dr. Shelton, who sees MOA returning to its “original principles” after wanderings of a different sort. When MOA was founded in 1949, the idea was to create a museum of world arts and culture. That’s the objective now, too. When MOA unveils its major renovation in January 2010, expect to see objects and ideas organized broadly by oceans, not continents, to underscore the fluidity of culture, spirituality, and philosophy.
Stories exploring the relationship between the world and Vancouver will be another area of emphasis. In collecting terms, this means a focus on acquiring or commissioning contemporary pieces, and efforts to grow the collections of regions currently under-represented, particularly Latin America, Europe, and parts of Africa. An exhibit planned for 2011 will look at beliefs between places and feature the work of 15 master-folk artists. Working title: Heaven, Hell and Somewhere in Between.
Dr. Wayne Maddison of the forthcoming Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC isn’t reshaping a history museum nor returning to a past vision, but rather, attempting to create a new institution from a collection of specimens amassed by university researchers over the years. MOV’s collection represents colonial wanderings; Maddison calls the Beaty’s an “accidental accumulation.” For him, the challenge is transitioning from neglected and varied collections to a consolidated public museum. Moving forward, they’ll be seeking items suited for display—specimens like the stunning blue-whale skeleton that will hang in their atrium, and, no doubt, be a major draw when the museum opens in 2010. We can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
Vancouver’s cultural institutions are at a major turning point. We’ve just rebranded/relaunched/reinvented (a process chronicled on this blog and elsewhere. See recent coverage on BC Business here). Our west side neighbour, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, is set to unveil an impressive expansion and renovation in early 2010—an effort years in the making. And the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, also at UBC, is at work on a new $50-million complex that will house a research centre and a museum devoted to the university’s natural-history collections. It, too, is expected to launch in early 2010. Then are the ongoing plans for a new location for the Vancouver Art Gallery and talk of a National Maritime Centre to be located on the shore of North Vancouver. Add it all up, and we’re on the verge of a very different arts and culture scene—even if it takes years to achieve yet.
Renos and glittering new spaces are important, sure, but the changes afoot aren’t really about all that. It’s a rethinking of how museums should connect to their visitors. Our feature exhibit, Ravishing Beasts, has played a hand in our thinking on this. As we mounted that show earlier this fall, it generated discussions about where we’ve been; how we once used taxidermy to connect to nature, and how static forms like dioramas were designed and presented as “spy-holes” into authentic habitats. Point being: It was once enough to present objects and artifacts in display cases and leave it at that. Not anymore. Now museums and galleries are leaning on multimedia tools and public programs, like film nights and talks, to animate their exhibits, and, hopefully, fire up debate and conversation outside their walls.
There’s something else going on, too. As our CEO Nancy Noble describes, history museums are changing from a place to study the foreign or the exotic, to a place to study ourselves. Visitors demand to know why an exhibit—especially one hosted by a city museum—is relevant to them today.
So, what does that mean for collecting? Are these new forms like podcasts and Flickr photo sites then a part of our collection moving forward? Are the very things that are reenergizing the museum-going experience as valuable as traditional objects? Are we blurring the line between archive and museum—and does that even matter?
Tomorrow night at 7 p.m., we’ll get some insights on all of the above, when we host a free talk with Dr. Anthony Shelton of the Museum of Anthropology, Dr. Wayne Maddison of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, and our own Nancy Noble. In a slideshow format, each of the presenters will present images of their respective institution’s latest acquisitions, and discuss how each is emblematic of their current collecting practices. Bonus: we’ll be offering a discounted admission of $7 to Ravishing Beasts, so if you haven’t wandered through yet, here’s your chance. Click here for additional event details on the talk; hope you can make it.