Museum of Vancouver

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Museum of Vancouver
Van museum space centre.jpg
Established 1894
Location Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Type Civic Museum
Director Nancy Noble
Museum of Vancouver collection - The Crab

The Museum of Vancouver (MOV) (formerly the Vancouver Museum) is a local museum located in Vanier Park, Vancouver, British Columbia. The MOV is the largest civic museum in Canada and the oldest in Vancouver. The museum was founded in 1894 and recently went through a major re-visioning process in 2008. It creates Vancouver-focused exhibitions and programs that encourage conversations about what was, is, and can be Vancouver. Permanent exhibitions tell the city’s stories from the early 1900s to the late 1970s and are complemented by contemporary, groundbreaking feature exhibits. It shares facilities with the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre.


The Museum is located at 1100 Chestnut Street in Vanier Park, in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano in Vancouver, BC. It shares the park with the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Bard on the Beach, the Vancouver Archives, and the Vancouver Academy of Music.


The museum was founded by the Art, Historical, and Scientific Association of Vancouver, which formed on April 17, 1894, with the objective of cultivating "a taste for the beauties and refinements in life."[1] The society collected curios and artifacts and displayed them in various locations until the museum opened in its first permanent location in the Carnegie Library on April 15, 1905.

Its current location was built as part of Canada's centennial in 1967, designed by architect Gerard Hamilton. In 1968, the museum re-opened as the Centennial Museum. In 1981 the museum was again renamed the Vancouver Museum, and there was an effort to renew permanent exhibition galleries.

Most recently (spring 2009), the museum became the Museum of Vancouver. The new title was chosen to reflect a re-visioning process led by new director, Nancy Noble. The vision moved the museum from bringing the world to Vancouver, to focusing on Vancouver - both as a physical reality and as an idea. The MOV seeks to increase its relevance to Vancouverites by telling the story of the city in new and unique voices.

Since its revisioning, the Museum of Vancouver has won the Canadian Museum Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Management (2010), the Canadian Museum Association Award for Education (for, 2012), and the BC Museum Association's Award for Museums in Motion (2012).

The Museum is affiliated with CMA, CHIN, the British Columbia Museum Association, and Virtual Museum of Canada.

The Building[edit]

The building was constructed in 1967 by the well-known architect Gerard Hamilton. Originally, it was planned to only house the museum, but a generous gift by H.R. MacMillan allowed the architect to incorporate a planetarium into the design. As a result, the distinctive roof was added, designed to reflect the shape to a woven basket hat made by Northwest Coast First Nations people.


The museum focuses on collecting artifacts that tell the story of the Metro Vancouver area. There are more than 65,000 items in the collection, which can be searched online at openMOV. Items on display include items from Vancouver's history from the 1900s through the 1970s. Temporary exhibitions bring out other items from the collection for display for periods of time ranging from 3–6 months.

From its previous iterations (as the Centennial Museum and Vancouver Museum), the collection (but not on display) includes artifacts collected from around the world by Vancouver residents, including a mummy purchased in Egypt during World War I, taxidermy of local game and wildlife, popular culture artifacts collected locally from the late 19th and 20th centuries, and journals written by local middle and upper class women chronicling their travels throughout the British Empire. In 2013, the museum was unsuccessful in its attempt to sell at auction nine of eighteen Renaissance miniatures once thought to have been by Michelangelo but now attributed to Johan Gregor van der Schardt.[2]


In October 2015, the team that curated cə̓snaʔəm, The City Before the City, won the 2015 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums. The Museum of Vancouver (MOV), in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC, Musqueam First Nation, and Susan Roy from the University of Waterloo, comprised the team. The exhibit tells the story of cə̓snaʔəm, one of the largest ancient Musqueam villages and burial sites upon which Vancouver was built.[3]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°16′34″N 123°08′38″W / 49.27611°N 123.14389°W / 49.27611; -123.14389