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Iconic Vancouver museum reopening after 18-month closure and 'monumental changes'

It'll open in time for summer visits.

Arguably Vancouver's most famous museum has been closed since January 2023.

But in just over a month the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC will be reopening to the public after extensive upgrades (including rebuilt sections) to help it withstand a potential earthquake.

“Over the past 18 months, MOA’s Great Hall has experienced monumental changes—some visible, some not, but all for a stronger future," says Susan Rowley, the museum's director, in a press release.

"It has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, incorporating innovative seismic technology into its foundations while restoring architect Arthur Erickson’s original 1976 design."

While the new structure is in keeping with the design by Erickson, Vancouver's most famous architect, there has also been collaboration with local First Nations.

And while the renovations give the museum an aesthetic refresh, the focus was on creating a safe space for the artifacts.

"MOA’s seismic upgrades are designed to protect the collections in the event of a major earthquake. Twenty-five base isolators have been installed under each of the Great Hall’s concrete columns to absorb the impact of seismic activity, separating the Great Hall from the ground and from the adjoining museum structure," reads a press release from the museum.

Fire prevention technology has also been incorporated.

The project was budgeted at $40 million, with funding coming from UBC as well as the provincial government and Canadian Heritage, a federal government agency.

Reopening the museum

The MOA will reopen to the public Thursday, June 13 at 5 p.m. with new exhibits and a weekend of special events.

On the first evening, June 13, there willl be free admission from 5 to 9 p.m.

From Friday, June 14 to Sunday, June 16, admission will be half-off. There will also be dance and musical celebrations throughout the weekend, along with hands-on workshops, tours and other activities.

The new exhibits opening will be To Be Seen, To Be Heard: First Nations in Public Spaces, 1900–1965 and in Pursuit of Venus [infected] (a 32-minute panoramic video project from Māori artist Lisa Reihana).

As part of the reopening the museum is also unveiling a new 8.7 m canoe by Stz’uminus artist Qap’u’luq—John Marston.