Being a member of the UBC community for years, I am not surprised when I keep learning from other members of the diverse community.
Museum of Anthropology
On March 6, 2013, I went to UBC’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver for the first time. A visit I would recommend for any other individuals who have the opportunity.
The museum is an absolute fabulous story of provincial and Aboriginal history. The immaculate pieces of Bill Reid art are stunning. He inspires a generation to truly hone a skill, and take pride in excellence.
The Great Hall is spectacular. Glass walls circle skyscraper-tall totem poles. It is walking through BC’s First Nations history.
The Multiverse Galleries
The Multiverse Galleries (Ways of Knowing) hosts 10,000 objects in the MOA collection. A massive gallery of glass cases of a wide variety of objects, one can spend months exploring artifacts and objects from the past centuries.
There are so many objects in the Multiverse Galleries (“the gallery”), there are rows upon rows of glass cases with clothing, costumes, masks, weapons, dishes, etc. A beautiful collection of how those who came before us on this land lived, traded, worked, and worked as groups.
As I was wandering the glass walls of items, I began counting the number of items. Are they sure there are 10,000 objects, I thought to my self? If this case has 10 and the next 32, there would have to be 500 cases to fit in the 10,000 objects. There is a considerable amount of cases, but not nearly anything close to even 100.
Like many museums and organizations trying to save our past, there are school tours available at the Museum of Anthropology. As part of learning by seeing and engaging youth to become the next generation of the MOA’s supporters, this is a key part to the museum’s survival.
As I am pondering how they fit 10,000 objects, I hear an older-man’s voice behind me: “Don’t pull on that [John Doe].” This individual ended up being a teacher of a grade 6 class visiting the museum at the same time as mine.
What was John Doe pulling on? The grade 6 student was pulling open the drawers located under each glass case.
What I, along with the teacher, realized. Thousands of (the majority) the Multiverse Gallery’s objects are in massive drawers below each glass case. What look like decorations are actually large, wooden handles used to open drawers.
In the drawers are objects just as magnificent as those in the large glass cases. So, the MOA isn’t crazy and can count.
What I Learned
If one of the young student’s peers hadn’t tried to pull on the handle, none of us would have likely seen the thousands of objects “hiding” beneath the glass cases. It took a young child to show us adults (including his teacher) how to view the majority of objects we would have otherwise missed.
When the student was opening the drawer, the teacher told him not to. If the student had listened, what would I have missed out on that day? I wouldn’t had seen tiny little pieces of jewelry hand-crafted over the past few centuries – a craft we ave allowed society to lose.
More importantly, how are the “experts” (the adults) educating our next generation (the school-aged children)? Are we asking them to be curious? To be able to listen well and do only as they are told (when told not to pull on something, don’t pull on it)?
A few thoughts from a few hours spent at The University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology.
Adam is President and Co-Founder of one3ag. You can connect with Adam by: Twitter (@adam13goodwin); Email (email@example.com); Web (www.adamkgoodwin.com); In-person. You can connect with one3ag by: Twitter (@one3ag); Email (firstname.lastname@example.org); Phone (250.870.3067); and Facebook (facebook.com/one3ag).