The Museum of Vancouver (MOV) has announced a new exhibit which opens the historic vaults of Vancouver’s iconic artifacts. Its main focus? To explore how storytelling through objects defines lives and communities-and to discover what happens when these stories are questioned. With its origins in the alternative facts of the American election and with the First Nations significance in Canada’s 150+ year, Mov’s New Exhibit: Unbelievable opens this June the 24th to much anticipation. Keep reading to see a sneak peek at the Museum of Vancouver’s newest exhibit!

MOV’s New Exhibit

Smallpox mask, Alderwood

AA 84 – Smallpox mask, Alderwood. Photo credit: Museum of Vancouver Collection


Inspiration for the MOV’s new exhibit originated in the wake of the American election. It critiques the lack of trust, the reach of the web, and the crisis in journalism where people reject facts that don’t fit their story, even if the information is true. It is in this era of “alternative facts and absolute falsehoods” that MOV Director of Curatorial and Engagement Gregory Dreicer presents an exhibit that raises questions. With Unbelievable, Dreicer hopes to leave visitors with a different understanding of the stories we are told and the stories we tell ourselves.


Vancouver Expedition frontlet

AA 2428 – Vancouver Expedition frontlet, c. 1790s. Wood, Photo credit: Museum of Vancouver Collection


The theme of Mov’s new exhibit centres around the idea of stories. “Stories are how we create our community and nation. They are literally a matter of life and death, possessing the power to bring us together or tear us apart,” says Dreicer. “A shockingly diverse collection of objects will provoke laughter, nostalgia, and fear. What unifies them is not the physical objects themselves – but the contradictory and unbelievable stories that surround each of the treasures on display. We are taking people deep behind the scenes – in order to explore the creation of stories and how they define our past, present, and future.” This theme of stories is so central, in fact, that visitors are encouraged to create their own stories about the various artifacts within the collection which include an elephant foot and favourite pieces of garbage salvaged by the City of Vancouver’s sanitation workers. Do these stories match up with the narrative of the MOV’s own documentation?


Cow horn chair

H976.246.1 – Cow horn chair. Cow horns, wood, velvet. Photo credit: Museum of Vancouver Collection


Unbelievable features an impressive collection of Vancouver icons. However, it’s crowning jewel is the Thunderbird totem pole. You may have seen it in Edward Curtis’ controversial work In the Land of the Head Hunters or it’s replica which stands in Stanley Park. But the original has been tucked away in the MOV vaults until now. Joining it are other Vancouver icons you may recognize like the original “R” from Arbutus Street’s “The Ridge” sign, a bronze-cast model of Stanley Park’s Girl in a West Suit, or the Quatchi costumes from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. These Vancouver classics however are interwoven with Vancouver’s relationship with First Nations communities and the tangled narrative that it entails, with artifacts like bird mask depicting the European brought disease smallpox and Pauline Johnson’s “Indigenous” dress.

MOV’s New Exhibit: Unbelievable is open from June 24 to September 4, 2017 at the Museum of Vancouver at 1100 Chestnut Street. Visit their website at to learn more!

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