June 2012

Posted by: Gala Milne on June 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm


Congratulations to Elisa Medina, Lisa Ngo, and Dianna Drahanchuk, winners of the Art Deco Chic Fashion Challenge! Over the summer, these three designers will be hard at work transforming these designs into garments for display at the MOV September 1-23 alongside Art Deco Chic. Read on to find how Vancouver and Art Deco inspired their designs.

Bachelor of Design, Fashion & Technology | Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Art Deco Chic challenge winner Elisa MedinaWhich art deco era/ garment/ or design concept inspired the creation of your garment?

Art Deco existed between modernity and exoticism, creating fashion that was intellectually eclectic and seductively elegant. The influence of architecture, art movements like Cubism and Fauvism, as well as the Jazz Age’s rhythm and movement had a strong presence on the exhibition’s early 20’s garments, which in turn inspired my designs’ repeating geometric shapes, unexpected embroidery, and saturated colour palette.

Tell us your story about deciding to become a fashion designer.

My path to fashion design was carved by a love for painting and drawing in the picturesque Quito, Ecuador. I started to draw at an early age and was eventually introduced to fashion illustration. From then, I Elisa Medinagradually cultivated my eye for design through sketching models in the pages of Vogue. I also started to appropriate my fine arts training to develop an aesthetic rooted in painterly compositions of colours and fabrics as well as mixed cultural and historical references. Moving to Canada in 2008 allowed me to pursue a career in fashion, as there are more educational and professional opportunities in this field. I am currently developing my technical skills at Kwantlen University both in women’s and menswear, as I go into my third year of studies.  

Where else do you draw inspiration from in your work?

Art, music, and culture are a constant source of inspiration as I design.

What changed for your conception of the garment design in knowing that you were creating for a museum exhibit as opposed to a fashion runway?

Designing garments for a museum exhibit requires a special attention to detail, as the garments remain static, becoming subjects to a closer view from the audience. It was therefore important to offer a dynamic experience for the viewer through different textures and shapes.  

How does living in Vancouver shape your design process?

Vancouver offers wonderful exposure to art and nature. This has encouraged me to be curious of my surroundings and look for inspiration wherever I go. All I need is a sketchbook in hand. In addition, our city’s “green culture” has also influenced me to become a responsible designer, keeping the people and the environment in mind during the design process.


Fashion Merchandising | Blanche MacDonald

Art Deco Chic challenge winner Dianna DrahanchukWhich art deco era/ garment/ or design concept inspired the creation of your garment?

The primary inspiration for this dress was the striking evening dress made in France for Bullocks in1929 – 1930.  The transparent black-layered silk georgette with dramatic crisscross shiny black machine beading I translated into an inner dress with sequins and transparent over dress with bead crisscross pattern applied to the outer layer.  The top of the under dress mimics the diamond shaped pattern while the over dress scoop neck with wider shoulder strap is typical of dress style of the 20’s.  The bead pattern creates an argyle pattern, made popular in the 20’s and is reminiscent of the long strands of beads that were all the rage during the jazz age.

Tell us your story about deciding to become a fashion designer.

Fashion Design was something I wanted to take up in high school but Horse Hill High School wasn’t able to advise me on available fashion Dianna Drahanchukschools. However, after retiring from my interior design career and realizing that the desire to engage in fashion design was still there, I decided to attend the Blanche Macdonald Fashion Merchandising program, even just for fun.  

Where else do you draw inspiration from in your work?

There is not one place that that my inspiration comes from.  I rarely buy fashion magazines but I travel a lot observing things that are not available here and in my mind's eye try to figure out how that particular item could be made/adapted in my world. 

What changed for your conception of the garment design in knowing that you were creating for a museum exhibit as opposed to a fashion runway?

I've never created a piece for a fashion runway so my only point of reference was the museum exhibit.

How does living in Vancouver shape your design process?

Availability of resources is key.  To enter a competition such as this would have been much more difficult, say in Victoria or Edmonton where I lived most of my life.  Having resources at hand allows for greater creativity.


Fashion Arts | Vancouver Community College

Which art deco era/ Art Deco Chic challenge winner Lisa Ngogarment/ or design concept inspired the creation of your garment?

The art deco garment that most inspired or more so caught my eye was the satin dress that had its hem ingeniously twisted  across the bust and thrown over the shoulder as an interesting design detail.



Tell us your story about deciding to become a fashion designer.

Well first of all, I never had a clear decision, when I was young, that I wanted to truly be a fashion designer. At a young age I was exposed to watching a lot of cartoon television shows like Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Card Captors and more. I really loved the illustrations drawn of the cartoon characters so I decided drawing them and wanted to create a character of my own. After creating my cartoon character's appearance, I said to myself,Lisa Ngo “I need to put some clothes on this girl” so I did. Still I was oblivious that drawing clothes on this girl was “designing” and dressed her like a doll, but on paper. Years after that, I trailed off from the design, I still immersed myself in art, but I was far from the path of a fashion designer. I still thought of having a career in designing clothes, but I forced myself to different areas of interests. It was until one day I realized during my last year of secondary education that I had to choose a career path to prepare for. I looked back and thought “What the heck did you even prepare yourself for?” I thought about my education, my passion and interests and throughout my life the only thing I've really enjoyed was styling my barbie in her clothes, caring about how I looked and dressed during school, overall just admiring cute dresses, and drawing clothes on my characters. So where does that lead me? Boom. Here I am at VCC and in this competition. Holy cow.

Where else do you draw inspiration from in your work?

Definitely Madeleine Vionnet as an haute couture designer. There is a picture of here sitting down and creating her draft on a doll. Looking at the picture, to me, I feel that she had a great passion and love for what she was doing. It seems as though she is in her own world and so immersed in what she is doing and that inspired me to try to re-create that mood in the dress in the picture. I also researched some art deco artists and the one that stood out was no other than Erte. I love his illustrations and designs. Very elaborate, dramatic, creative and just good.

What changed for your conception of the garment design in knowing that you were creating for a museum exhibit as opposed to a fashion runway?

As soon as I found that it would just be in an exhibit, it could be fragile. Very fragile. I figured that if the dress I designed was for the runway, It would totally get caught and torn in a painful, heart-wrenching way. The care and handling that I saw in the exhibition from Ivan Sayers, Claus Jahnke and his team insured that I could sacrifice some functionality, so I had the nylon thread be the support between the two pieces of fabric while holding some crystals at the same time. Sorry thread. Hopefully, I would love to see a real model at least walking slowly in the dress.

How does living in Vancouver shape your design process?

Other than the mountainous backdrop view, cultural diversity, and ecstatic rainy days, overall Vancouver just feels like a breath of fresh air. Whenever I think of Vancouver overall, I just feel very natural and free of any limitations and that is what I want to try to do when I design. I was born here and I still don't know Vancouver as much as I thought I did. I currently work for Erin Templeton (one of my role models!) and after meeting her I just found about this world of local designers and workers that either have this close net or some type of connection and support to one another and that just warms my heart.

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on June 26, 2012 at 8:57 am

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Expo 86 postcardEven for a forward-looking city, Vancouver seems to be on the verge of some particularly big changes this week. Maybe it's because we just finished watching a Franklin Templeton commercial which features a decidedly Vancouver-shaped, futuristic city, but this week's MOVments has us thinking about what the city is going to look like in 5, 10, or 20 years. Check out these links for some clues to what might be in store.

Floating Houses (Maybe...) Vancouver's new Task Force on Housing Affordability will present its second set of findings and recommendations to City Council tomorrow (June 27). One of the suggestions that's gotten a bit of press involves converting container ships into low-income, floating houses. Cool? Oh yeah. Feasible? We'll have to see.

Art Spaces in Unexpected Places. A new art space called The Nines at the former Budget car rental office at Pender and Abbott could be part of a larger trend towards more studios and art spaces in the city. The Tyee explains that the city recently approved a plan to  convert a number of former industrial spaces into art studios. Artists, makers, and multi-media-ers all across Vancouver are optimistic.

A Leader in Refugee Care. As new laws make life more difficult for many refugees in Canada, Vancouver will become home to a world-class Welcome House Centre for people escaping dire circumstances in their countries of origin. The Immigration Services Society of B.C. plans to combine a variety of services including short-term housing, language training, and medical care at the facility that will be built at 10th and Victoria.

Life Without Luongo (Maybe...) Speculation abounds over where Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo will end up as the NHL draft finishes this week. Although backup goalie Corey Schneider becomes a free-agent after July 1, opening him up to offers from other teams, the Canucks' manager maintains that they won't be rushing to make any decisions about trading Luongo. And, while you're in a sporty state of mind, check out this little article about the Vancouver Canadians minor league baseball team and what they're doing to help the Toronto Blue Jays in the major league.

At the MOVeum:
Sunday, July 1 (Canada Day) - All general admission is FREE
June through September 30 - Reading the Riot Boards exhibit

[Image: Expo '86 Souvenir Postcard from the MOV collection H2008.23.2501]

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on June 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Runner on the seawallIt's almost officially summer and true to form, the weather in Vancouver is an unpredictable mix of downpours and sunshine. As those clouds hurtle across the sky, things are moving just as quickly on the ground below. This week MOVments looks at the shifting cultural landscapes and the influential movers and shakers that are setting Vancouver in motion.

The Loneliness of the Vancouver Runner. As the weather improves (slightly), more of us are getting out for a morning run. But, unlike in Miami or Toronto, we're not greeting each other as we pass on our running routes. A new Vancouver Foundation survey suggests that this could be a symptom of the broader social isolation many Vancouverites feel. A quick fix? Flash a big smile at your fellow runners, folks!

Marpole Midden. It appears that the dispute over development on a 3,000 year-old village site may be closer to a resolution. The provincial government has offered the Musqueam First Nation cash in exchange for land previously owed to them, so that the group can purchase the historic midden. A condo development was halted when burial grounds were discovered at the Marpole site in January.

Happy 45th Anniversary Vancouver Magazine! To celebrate 45 years of engaging and entertaining readers with insightful content, Vancouver Magazine has put out a fantastic list of 45 people who have helped shape the city.

Northern Exposure. Are British Columbian cultural sensibilities and aesthetics invading the American psyche? Knute Berger suggests BC urban design, sports, and film sets have a greater influence on our neighbours to the south than we realize.

Book Ending. And finally, the St. George Bike Lane Library is putting books, ideas, and people into circulation in an exciting way. Everybody should go check it out!

At the MOVeum:
June 19, 6 pm – Home: Inspiration from Three Vancouver Communities

[Image: Runner in Stanley Park. Photo by Arlene Gee]

Posted by: Joan Seidl on June 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm

On Thursday I  returned from Churn Creek with my coworkers, having completed repatriation of the petroglyph to the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation.  I am still coming down from the intense excitement, anxiety, and joy of the previous three days.

On Monday, June 11, after two years of work and months of intense planning, the MOV welcomed members of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, including Councilor Dean Tenale; elders Mary Boston, Theresa Jack, and Rose Wilson; and teaching staff, parents and children from Rosie Seymour School at Canoe Creek (returning from a field trip to Victoria). We had lunch in a wonderful room overlooking the water, where Wade Grant from the Musqueam First Nation welcomed everyone to Coast Salish territory. We adjourned to the rock’s location in the courtyard for a ceremony led by Chief Fred Robbins and Irvine Johnson from the Es’ketemc First Nation and Spiritual Leader Gwen Therrian from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation who lives in Vancouver.  Around the rock, the people from Canoe Creek and Dog Creek placed branches of sage, juniper, and wild rose, intense with the smells of the high grasslands. Gwen involved everyone in the ceremony, blessing Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver councilors Andrea Reimer, Geoff Meggs, and Adrienne Carr as well as MOV board and staff, and sharing the pipe with the First Nations people.

Moving the petroglyph from the courtyard

We thought the next day would be easy: we just had to move the rock on to a truck.  We hired the very professional Pro-Tech Movers (who had previously moved totem poles and other large, awkward objects for the MOV).  Their crew of four guys arrived at 8 am and by 10 am had wrapped the rock carefully in blankets and straps, erected a portable gantry crane over it, and lifted it on to a palette.  Then, for the next six hours, we watched as the crew tried first one thing and then another to no avail: they could not get the rock out of the courtyard.  The courtyard is so cramped that their equipment could scarcely be used. Poor guys – struggling inside the courtyard while the folks from Canoe Creek, Dog Creek, and the MOV sat on chairs lined up outside the glass walls watching it all.

As the hours passed, we bonded in boredom, desperation and jokes (about the comeliness of the various guys and our apparent error in failing to bring in a team of ten horses, as used in the 1926 move). About 3:30 pm, Chief Hank Adam arrived from Dog Creek (he had to miss Monday’s ceremony because of a death in his family.) Chief Hank brought renewed energy to the gathering. About 4 pm to great applause, the forklift and come-along pulled the palette jack loaded with the rock out of the courtyard and into the lower lobby.  From there it was quick and easy.  By 5 pm, Pro-Tech’s large forklift lifted the rock gently on to the bed of the truck graciously provided by Caribou Interior Crane Services.

Returning the petroglyph to Churn Creek

I next saw the rock the following day, as we assembled with people from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation for the procession to bring the rock to its new resting place at the entrance to the Churn Creek Protected Area.  We walked near the back of the procession, following the school kids and leading the horses and riders, with the truck bringing up the very rear. The crane on the truck easily lifted the rock onto the resting place that BC Park Ranger Tom Hughes had prepared for it. It looked so small against the vast scale of the landscape.  How could it have confounded us for six hours back in Vancouver! The pecked glyphs that seemed so inscrutable in Vancouver showed up in sharp definition in the clear Cariboo air.

Elder Ron Ignace from Skeetchestn Band hosted the program which included remarks and a pipe ceremony by elder Arthur Dick and a presentation by Chief Hank.  In attendance, there were Secwepemc Elders and leadership from Adams Lake, Neskonlith, and Whispering Pines as well as a representative from Stl’atl’imc community Seton Lake.  There were a number of Tsilhqot'in First Nation supporters also in attendance.

At the end of the ceremony, they called up the four of us from the MOV (CEO Nancy Noble, Professor Bruce Miller of UBC, grad student Emily Birky, and myself), and the chiefs and Elders sang a song to us.  It was a playful song from the gambling game lahal that is used to distract and fake out opponents.  Chief Hank and Chief Fred Robbins had grins and twinkling eyes as they let us know that to their understanding they had used superior strategy to get their rock back!  There was laughter and tears, as the ceremony broke up and members of the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem approached the rock and laid their hands on it for the first time.

Make no mistake, there was a degree of anxiety in the air too. There were eight RCMP officers present; three were in red serge as pre-arranged decoration to the event.  The presence of the others had been requested by the Elders.  They had accompanied the rock from Williams Lake as there was concern that some members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation felt that the rock should have been repatriated to them, and not to the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem, who are part of the larger Secwepemc Nation that includes 17 bands in the BC interior.

This is discouraging but understandable fallout from 150 years of colonialism in BC that has seen virtually no treaties signed with First Nations.  The Secwepemc and the Tsilhqot'in have overlapping, outstanding land claims, as do dozens of other BC First Nations. At the MOV we did due diligence to find the appropriate nation to whom to repatriate the rock. We researched the records thoroughly and consulted an expert in petroglyphs who knew the general area well. We approached the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem in good faith.  It is the MOV’s hope that the return of the rock will be an occasion for unity and empowerment among all the First Nations of the region. The decision to place the rock at Churn Creek may aid in this, as it’s a traditional gathering place and point of trade for many interior First Nations.

Meanwhile, back at the party, food (tons of it) followed - barbecued meat, corn on the cob, bannock, baked potatoes, and coleslaw.  There were giant sheet cakes decorated with frosting versions of the glyphs and the exhortation “Rock On!”.  An impromptu band played from the back of a pickup truck, including an ode to the rock created on the spot. Pretty soon we could hear drumming and singing in the distance, where a proper game of lahal had started. The teasing and baiting was intense as teams battled to bluff their opponents and show off their own skills.

Rock on cake

We left about sunset. As we drove away, we looked back at the rock. It looked right at home in that landscape, surrounded by the songs and drums of its people.

Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on June 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

This Friday (June 15) is the official launch of our Reading the Riot Boards exhibition – a display of 15 of the plywood boards that were put up to hoard windows after the riots, and which were then covered with messages of hope, love, and more.

The boards demonstrate that what began as a utilitarian reaction to broken windows grew into an open source work of art, with messages from thousands of Vancouverites and visitors to the city. At a time when world media fixed on Vancouver’s wrongs, residents-as-authors and as-artists used the riot boards to examine our collective conscience, encourage reconciliation, address the city’s social ills, and remind us that hope persists.

Riot boards tote bagLast year the MOV received assistance from the Enterprising Non-Profit program to develop a business plan to help diversify and expand our current revenue streams. Among other projects to help meet this goal, Richard Muller of Sum Things Ventured, has been working tirelessly with the MOV’s Kate Follington, Director of Development and Marketing, to come up with  merchandise that embodies the MOV's mission and vision while fostering our unique personality.

The first of these pieces are a tote bag and a t-shirt which display an interpretation of the messages of the board – showing and celebrating Vancouver’s resiliency and community.

The bags and t-shirts will be available for sale at The Latest Scoop and Book’mark, the Vancouver Public Library store.

Riot boards tshirt


The Latest Scoop
2928 Granville St. (between 13th and 14th).
Store hours for our South Granville location are: Mon-Wed: 10-7 Thurs & Fri: 10-8 Saturday: 10-6 Sunday & Holidays: 11-5

Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
350 West Georgia Street

With every item purchased you'll receive $2 off your next visit to the MOV.





Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on June 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Kitsilano coast guard stationThis week MOVments gets messy. From dirty history to density wars, we've rounded up some of the complicated stories that make Vancouver so interesting. Read on for the nitty-gritty on Vancouver tourism, plywood protests, high-rise politics, and the logistics of bike sharing.

Vancouver's messy past. For many, Vancouver’s historical walking tours are how they come to know our city. Unsurprisingly, these tours often choose to focus on positive, uncomplicated aspects of Vancouver's past. Chances are if you take a city tour of Vancouver you won't be hearing much about the Komagata Maru or the 1907 Race Riots. In contrast, local tour guide, Jessica O'Neill, encourages tour-takers to tackle these difficult histories and argues that they make for more accurate, and ultimately more compelling tours.

The writing on the (plywood) wall(s). In a bit of synchronicity, plywood boards have recently gone up at the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, just as MOV unveils its exhibit of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot boards. Scrawling comments like "Trading dollars for lives" on the plywood boards outside the Kitsilano office, locals have been expressing their outrage at the federal government's money-saving decision to close the search-and-rescue station.

Tower power. Are high-rise developments the solution to Vancouver's sky-rocketing real-estate prices? Harvard professor Edward Glaeser says yes. His main argument: building more high-density residences will ease the gentrification of middle-income neighbourhoods and decrease suburban sprawl. Sounds simple, but as we know, the reality is anything but. For more on this issue, read about former-mayor Sam Sullivan's new found respect for Vancouver's glass towers.

The politics of sharing. As we wait to hear who wins the bid to implement the city’s bike sharing system, Vancouverites are thinking about the dirty business of sharing bike helmets. In a city with a mandatory helmet law, some argue that the idea of sharing sweaty, germy helmets is what will doom the project to failure. Meanwhile over in Montreal, an independent helmet advocate is loaning and disinfecting helmets for free for BIXI users.

At the MOVeum:
June 15 - Is This Vancouver? Reflections on the 2011 Hockey Riot Boards
June 19 - Jane’s Walk Recap and Dialogue

[Image: Plywood boards outside the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Photo by Clive Camm]

Posted by: Joan Seidl on June 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Museum of Vancouver conservation staff clean the petroglyph

For many years, I squinted at murky black and white photographs taken in 1926 showing a great petroglyph-covered rock as it was hauled away from the Fraser River somewhere in the interior. I despaired that we would ever know the rock’s original location with any certainty. It seemed that removing the rock back in 1926 had been utter folly. It felt against nature to even consider hauling a six ton rock from the interior of BC and move it to Vancouver. But driven by compulsion and arrogance (to my understanding), people did it, and the great rock now sits at the Museum of Vancouver after many years in Stanley Park.

For the last 20 years, the huge rock has lay in the Museum’s interior courtyard, its many petroglyphs slowly disappearing under a layer of moss and lichen. Next week, it will be repatriated to Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nations and taken back home to the Fraser River at Churn Creek Protected Area, about two hours east of Clinton.

The great rock has been on a long journey. In 1925, a gold prospector in the Cariboo named H.S. Brown came across the petroglyph partially hidden in a grove of cottonwood trees when he was fetching water near Crow’s Bar along the Fraser River. Brown was an admirer of the Mohawk poet Pauline Johnson who was buried in Stanley Park after her death in 1913. His original plan was to sell his placer gold claim and use the proceeds to place the stone by her grave in Stanley Park. When Brown was unable to sell his claim, the chair of the Vancouver Park Board, W.C. Shelly, stepped in.

Shelly wanted the petroglyph in order to add it to the collection of totems poles, house posts, and other First Nations art that he was assembling from throughout BC in order to create a faux “Indian Village” in Stanley Park. (Shelly was apparently indifferent to the fact that the government was trying to evict the real Coast Salish settlements in the Park at the time).

Moving the rock (dubbed the “Cariboo Monolith” by news reporters) was a massive undertaking. Shelly hired Frank Cross to bring the rock out over land. Cross worked with a team of ten horses. It took a month to drag the rock up the 3,000 foot ascent from the bank of the Fraser River. Then, taking advantage of winter snow, Shelly’s team hauled the rock overland to the Pacific Great Eastern railhead and then down to Vancouver, where it was placed in Stanley Park, near the totem poles. Increasing incidents of vandalism led the Park Board to ask the Museum to look after the rock in the early 1990s. In 1992, the petroglyph was moved from Stanley Park to the Museum’s interior courtyard.

In 2010, Bruce Miller, an anthropology professor at UBC who also chairs MOV’s Collections Committee, brought the petroglyph to the attention of the Committee. Bruce explained the contemporary understanding of petroglyphs as highly sacred objects that are integral to their original sites (the power is in the place as well as the rock), and encouraged MOV to work towards repatriation. Bruce brought in archaeologist Chris Arnett who specializes in BC petroglyphs. We shared the documentation we had with Chris. After researching, Chris advised us that we ought to speak with the Canoe Creek Indian Band, now known as Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation, from whose territory the petroglyph had been taken without permission in 1926.

In September 2010 Chief Hank Adam and Phyllis Webstad of the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation visited the MOV to see the petroglyph and meet with our staff. In October, the First Nation formally requested repatriation. After working through the process required by MOV’s Collections Policy, the MOV’s Board of Directors voted to repatriate the petroglyph in March 2011 — lightning speed in the Museum business.

Meanwhile members of the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem scouted the banks of the Fraser to find the rock’s original location. On a glorious day in late August 2011, Chief Adam led us to the exact spot where the rock had stood. It was a powerful experience — the Fraser rushing by, the sun beating down, velvety hills all around. Even the skeptics among us (me) were convinced when we held up the historical photographs of the petroglyph move in 1926 and matched up the silhouettes of the mountains, ridge for ridge. And then, standing there, Chief Adam said, “Look down.” At our feet were more rocks with petroglyphs — as the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation say, “sister rocks”. This was the place.

That brings us to today. We have been invited to join Chief Adam and the members of the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation to the ceremony on June 11 that will begin the rock’s journey home. Over the past weeks, MOV’s conservator Carol Brynjolfson has carefully removed the moss and lichen. On June 12 Pro-Tech industrial movers will move the rock through the museum and on to a waiting truck for transport to Churn Creek. Then on Wednesday, June 13 it will be welcomed home by the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation at a ceremony at Churn Creek to which all are invited. I will be there, filled with joy to see this important work to completion. 

Posted by: Viviane Gosselin on June 5, 2012 at 12:57 am

Sex Talk in the City exhibition blog

Sex Talk in the City exhibition drawing

















Conceptual drawing of a section in the Pleasure Zone. The bed mattress becomes the projection surface. Design by Propellor Studio, February 2012.


We could say that the dust has settled since the announcement from Heritage Minister James Moore concerning Sex: the Tell-all Exhibition and his view that its an inappropriate use of funds for that specific museum. The controversy over an exhibition designed by the Montreal Science and Technology Museum to educaete teens about their sexuality has made one thing very apparent: some interest groups will mobilize a lot of energy to discourage public institutions (schools and museums alike) from relaying valuable information to youth about sexuality. It would be naïve to think that MOV’s 2013 exhibition Sex Talk in the City project will be immune from similar criticism. The exhibition may not be presented in the national capital and in a national museum, but like most museums, MOV relies, in part, on public dollars to provide its services. And that’s usually enough to get some critics going.

We feel completely comfortable with embracing the topic of sexuality at MOV. Developing an exhibition that investigates the evolution of "sex talk" in Vancouver. Addressing issues of sexual health, diversity and education helps us fulfill our mandate . . . in a big way.  To put it succinctly:

  1. People in the city work, play and . . . have sex. Exploring how people think and talk about sexuality is one way, among many, to understand and investigate the city.
  2. We want a healthy city. The Sex Talk in the City project advocates for more open and public conversations about sexuality. The more knowledgeable people are about their sexuality, the more informed decisions people will make.


Sex Talk in the City project at MOV and the larger museum picture:

Recent practice and studies have demonstrated that museums, with their unique resources, can play an important role as agents of social services. Some museums today take on starkly bolder roles (than the traditional institutions) as a way to influence social change and promote social inclusion. Canadians and international studies have shown the potential for museums to raise public awareness and contribute to attitudinal changes concerning public health, social inclusion and social justice (Sandell, 2005, 2007; Silverman, 2010). What is also important to remember is that studies  confirm that museums benefit from an incredible capital of public trust. As a result, the museum, as site of public education, holds a privileged position to convey and engage the public with critical social issues. 

A number of museums have taken an active role in fostering new understandings related to the issue of sexual diversity, and in promoting safer sex to prevent infection as well as (unwanted) conception.  Close to us we have Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the Tacoma Art Museum. In Canada, recent examples include as mentioned above Sex: A Tell-all Exhibition at the Science Centre in Montreal and Hello Sailor an exhibition exploring the lives of gay and lesbian mariners at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. Both exhibitions (as we know more than ever now) were able to stir provocative discussions involving visitors, the broader public, the media and policymakers.

The multi-media nature of museum exhibitions, which includes videography, installation, display of material culture, graphics, text, programming, social media campaigns, soundscape as well as the social quality of museum visiting make up powerful learning vectors in regards to sexual education. And so we have come to view MOV as uniquely positioned to co-produce with community partners, a learning experience that is less medicalized than the visit at the health clinic and less didactic than sex education in the classroom context while promoting meaningful cross-cultural and inter-generational dialogue about sexuality.

From this perspective, addressing the topic of sexuality becomes a particularly compelling way to fulfill MOV’s mission to lead provocative conversations about Vancouver’s past, present and future. 

Sex Talk in the City brainstorming paper

Group discussion at a meeting with the advisory meeting, May 2012