Posted by: Gala Milne on March 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

The budding of the cherry blossoms meets the end of another fiscal year, and the conjunction of these two signifies a more familiar type of change than we’ve been acclimatized to over the past little while. Scandalous elections and nature’s renewal!

He’s no Jack, but the NDP has spoken with their election of Tom Mulcair as federal party leader. This decision has some wondering whether or not the idea of “cooperation” among opposition parties is still possible, while others speculate on the technologically-enabled “disruption” to the online voting system used in the election.

With all this electoral scandal, and robocalling, and so much of our identity and faith being put into advanced technology, one has to wonder if we can’t just learn to love and accept robots for who they are…

Vancouverites everywhere are rejoicing in the large sums of their fare-evasion tickets. News broke this week that apparently, you may never be held accountable for your $173 ticket. Almost makes you want to catch a train and have a friendly chat with a stranger, doesn’t it?

Lastly, Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein joined a room of hundreds at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s annual Gala this week. The pair spoke with care and urgency on the state of our natural environment just as the CCPA releases their Annual Alternative Fiscal Budget, to tie up this post. It’s enough to make one want to spraypaint moss grafitti onto the nearest concrete jungle wall.

At the MOVeum: Veda Hille Sings Songs of the False Creek Flats this Friday night!

Posted by: Gala Milne on March 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Greeting, MOVers. Just as Canada’s West produced harrowing hail while the East saw seducing sun this week, Vancouver’s sightlines are equally diverse. Caught between the closing of little YVR gems like The Book Warehouse and the growing movement of BC schools to offshore destinations, one is left to wonder about values and priorities when it comes to staying in the city.  Did you know 300 BC certified teachers are employed in 29 BC offshore schools?

Should I stay or should I go? Your local radio program, On the Coast, is hosting a series of conversations on housing affordability as conversations out east say the next federal budget should stretch its long arm of policy reform to put the rental housing market “on solid ground”.

This way to Grandma’s… Of particular interest to MOVers is where this stay/go dilemma intersects with visual history and our built city. Recently Vancouver knocked down an old building to reveal a new (old) ghost sign for Grandma’s Boy.
Should it be saved? Maybe this is a question for Vancouver’s museum professionals. If you’re interested in what Museum educators have to say, you might be interested in the upcoming un-conference, Then/Hier.

Cut a Rug. Or… some other fine fabric… As you may know there’s a fashion design challenge happening at the MOV around our new exhibit, Art Deco Chic. In tune, this article explores the question, Can historic garments be used for contemporary fashion? In small-business response, the owner of Musette Bicycle Café thinks so. This Italian-vintage-cycling-attire-inspired café recently opened off Hornby bike route and we think it pulls off the contemporary-glam thing quite well.

In other worldly affairs, the LA Times is examining the ups and downs of Vancouver’s Climate Action Plan, 5 years post instatement. And for those of us interested in the goods behind the Canadian Economy, a free dialogue is being held at SFU Woodwards Wednesday night.

At the MOVeum: Veda Hille @MOV Songs of False Creek Flats

& Big thanks to everyone who came out to Mini MakerFaire Fundraiser last week! Here are some photos.   

[Photo care of ]

Posted by: Zaena Campbell on March 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Commodore Ballroom flapper dressWith so many folks lined up for a 'night on the town' this Patty's Day weekend, I thought it was time to highlight a party dress! Worn to opening of the Commodore Cabaret (now Ballroom) in 1929, this twinkling 'little black dress' marks the birth of a legendary Vancouver venue.

One look at the ornate intricacy of the frock, and I’m sure the opening must have been an exciting and much anticipated evening! The sides are elaborately embroidered with an undulating line of flower, berry, and tendril patterns. From waist to hip, vertical lines of sequins drip with layers of beaded fringe tailor made for movement. Falling about knee length, with bare arms, and a deep V, this 'saucy little number' was on trend with the more daring flapper style. Indeed, this classic Art Deco design seems custom cut for a fun night of dancing with legendary big bands and a deluxe dance floor.

As musician Dal Richards remembers, the Commodore was advertised as having "the biggest dance floor in Canada, and the only sprung floor – a floor designed with embedded horse hair to 'put spring in every dancer’s step'. Though the old floor has since been replaced, a piece of the original preserved for posterity in the MOV’s collection (photo still to come).

According to one Georgia Straight Article, the Commodore's bright and hopeful opening was quickly followed by a rough patch.

"... Designed and built at the height of North America's fascination with art deco, the room opened in December 1929. Four months later, the stock market crashed, the Dirty Thirties were officially under way, and the Commodore was one of the city's first high-profile casualties. What was supposed to have lured customers away from the Hotel Vancouver and its booming ballroom business ended up sitting dark for half a year. In November 1930, local nightclub pioneers Nick Kogas and Johnny Dillias became convinced they could make a go of it, reopening the club and officially beginning its run as a live venue with dinner and dancing every Saturday. Over the next seven decades management of the Commodore periodically changed hands, but the venue's ability to draw top talent remained the same. The list of acts that have graced the room's stage over the years is truly staggering..."

In the Big Band days, international legends like Sammy Davis Junior, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey played the commodore. Local jazz aficionado Dave Dixon notes that the Commodore was also home for local swing legends, including groups led by Bob Lyon, Ole Olson, and, later, Fraser MacPherson, Dave Robbins, and Bobby Hales.

The fabulous Commodore Ballroom has survived and thrived through decades, becoming an important part of our cultural character. In 2011, Billboard Magazine even selected the Commodore as one of North America’s 10 most influential clubs. Placed in the company of legendary venues like New York’s Bowery Ballroom and San Francisco’s Fillmore, the Commodore was the only club in Canada to make the list for being “influential, a career building block or just plain cool.”  Yes, Vancouver . . . it's true: We’re just plain cool. 

Posted by: Zaena Campbell on March 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm

It’s Museum Monday! Have you ever looked down a bustling street and wondered what sort of shops lived there years before? Have you discovered a great local fashion designer…a Vancouver original, who could proudly represent our signature style 80-100 years ago or years from now?

In celebration of Vancouver fashion, this week we’re shining a spotlight on this cute and sporty navy polka dot dress –a darling example of local Art Deco Chic straight out of the MOV Collection. Typical of the1920s era silhouette, the garment fits loosely, with a bias cut and a drop waist. It has me picturing a vintage Vogue Magazine Illustration…A sporty young gal at the beach with a sunny cloche and a butter silk scarf blowing in the breeze…Maybe calling out “Tennis anyone?” Cut from a sheer cotton toile, this airy frock might have been paired with a slip. In fact, it was most likely a manufacturer’s sample and never worn...A lucky find for Vancouver textile historians? It seems so!

Made by the Aurora Dress Company of Vancouver around 1927, this ‘sweet little number’ is a sampling from Vancouver’s own Art Deco era garment industry. The “Aurora Silk Company” was established in 1923 by Ken V. Lopatecki at 318 Homer Street. By 1930, the shop became known as the “Aurora Dress & Silk Company” and moved to a new suite in the same building. The last listing for the shop in the city directories was in 1933. Sadly, the company went out of business during the depression (as part of the falling stock for ‘Rand's Dry Goods’). Through the mid to late 1930s, former Aurora Company founder, Lopatecki, continued on as a salesman for “Pacific Maid Dress”. By 1940, he became President of “Queen Bess Dress”. Affectionately nicknamed after Queen Elizabeth, “Queen Bess Dress” was located in the ever fashionable area of 3740 Main Street,

Some truly stunning haute couture creations are now on display in our “Art Deco Chic” exhibit. These ultra-deluxe threads offer instant delight. They seem to ‘wink at you from across the room’…Then quickly envelope you in all of their bold, sleek, sparkling beauty…Meanwhile, this relatively unassuming little polka dot shift reminds us of those extra ‘hidden treasures’ that await the most curious MOV visitors…More fascinating stories ready to unfurl!

To learn more about the ‘fables behind our fashions’, follow our MOVblog or join us for a Curator’s Talk and Tour!

Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on March 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm

We kicked off our newest special exhibition, Art Deco Chic, with an opening party last night. We welcomed about 500 people, including Members and special guests. Everyone came dressed to the nines and it was a fabulous time, with live music provided and a performance of the charleston by Rhythm City Productions.

After a short introduction to the exhibition by curators Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke, the MOV's Director of Development announced that we have upgraded our system to take contributions towards our textile collection. If you love what you see here, you can help us conserve the garments by donating [simply drop down in the donation section to choose "textile collection"].

And last but not least, we pulled back the curtain and let people take in the fabulous exhibition! Our photographers snapped some shots of the crowd and the fabulous outfits that were worn.


MOV's Executive Director, Nancy Noble, introduces co-curator Ivan Sayers.

Party guests enter the exhibition.

The "Desert Sand" accessory box has accessories inspired by the finding of King Tut's tomb


Gowns from the late 1930s make use of colour blocking and geometric cutouts.



Dancers from Rhythm City Productions perform the charleston for the crowd.

Art Deco Chic co-curators Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers smile as the wonderful evening comes to a close.

For images of all the wonderful outfits, visit our Flickr page!

If you're looking for an excuse to dress up again, or you missed out on the opening, there are three more opportunities to get your deco on before Art Deco Chic comes to a close!

  • High Tea @ MOV - Saturday, May 12, 2pm
  • Dapper & Flapper formal - Friday, June 8
  • Pop-up Speakeasy - August, date TBA

Keep an eye on our events calendar for details!

Posted by: Gala Milne on March 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Something we aim to do here at MOV is to provide a platform for emergent thinkers, local leaders, and innovative projects and organizations around the city.  In short, the people and groups whose passion centres around making Vancouver a better place for all of us.  Although we mentioned the passing of Jim Green in MOVments last week , we wanted to take a second look at the legacy of this man and think about some Vancouverites who push the envelope in similar ways.

Throughout his long list of accomplishments and innovative goals, Jim is recognized as possessing “joy, originality, urgency, curiosity, laughter and love to the city”.

Something resounding for us, is Jim’s relentless understanding of the importance of community-based knowledge and leaders. It’s something we try to actively make space for at the MOV through our public lecture series and dialogues around food security, city planning, DIY communities, and Vancouver urbanism (to name a few). 

More and more, organizations in Vancouver are also using their resources to spotlight Vancouver’s social innovators, environmental warriors, human rights advocates, and cultural proponents. For example:

We’re honoured to live in a city of innovative idea-makers. We know we’re missing more, but keep it coming, yvr!  

At the MOVeum: Art Deco Chic opens with a glamourous party tonight and runs through September 23, 2012

[Image is Shift Delivery Service speaking at Re:Generation via Vancouver Public Space Network]

Posted by: Viviane Gosselin on March 5, 2012 at 11:38 am

“Our work has made us keenly aware of society’s fears around sexuality” -Andrea Dobbs, Womyn'sWear

As the retail design and display manager of Womyns’Ware I wear a lot of hats. Sometimes I’m buried under a pile of catalogues trying to select tasteful, safe, quality sex toy amidst a sea of cheap, tacky, or disturbing products. Or I’m trolling industrial design sites in Europe looking for innovative approach to sex toys design. I support customers and staff, collaborate with our founders to design and produce fixtures and displays that support our wares, and I participate in the communication efforts. When all is said and done, I feel I’ve developed the skills of a researcher, an educator, and an artist.

So when Womyns’Ware was asked to participate in the MOV Sex Talk in the City project I was overjoyed! Helping to create a visual and tangible feast for Vancouverites to engage in with the goal of enlightenment at its core is right up our alley. What can we bring to the table? How about 17 years of front line work with women and their partners in search of sexual empowerment. Our customers have fundamentally informed our approach to what we do and have given us an understanding of just how vast an arena sex and sexuality is.

As an organization we’ve faced censorship, unwarranted legal barriers, black listing, and fear mongering — and it’s left us keenly aware of society’s fears around sexuality. We’ve encountered wonderful allies over the years such as Options for Sexual Health, midwifery clinics, progressive faith organizations, sex educators in North America and abroad, cottage industry proprietors, and physicians in private practice. Through these welcomed (and even the not so welcomed) engagements we’ve enjoyed an exchange of ideas and information that has made for layers of knowledge difficult to parallel under any other circumstance.

And yet there is so much to learn! We have experiences to share and artifacts to loan —we arguably have a collection of vibrators that rivals even the best sex toy museums! From the early 1900 Hamilton Beach New Life Vibrator donated to us in the very early days of our business by an aged man who understood right away that we’d be the place to appreciate and display his family heirloom to the 1956s Sonoid Spheroid Action vibe (complete with packaging and instruction manual) donated to us by a lovely woman whose mother had passed away and who couldn’t bring herself to sell it at the yard sale!

We’re very much looking forward to seeing the first iteration of the exhibition design concepts, and to continuing this discussion of sexuality and sex education over the upcoming year.

Andrea Dobbs has worked as Design and Display Manager at Womyns’Ware since 2004.

Join in the conversation on Twitter: @xtalkinthecity #xtalkMOV

Posted by: Gala Milne on February 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm

You like us!

Thanks Vancouver – you’ve put us right up there with the VAG and the MOA for your top three public art gallery/museums in Vancouver, and we couldn’t be happier. From exciting talks about city planning and food resiliency to the opening of our upcoming exhibit on Art Deco fashion from the 1920s and 1930s, things just keep rolling along over here in Vanier Park and we’re so glad to be your museum for the curious.

As a special treat, some digging in our archives has revealed an interesting thread to Vancouver’s past. Did you know Vancouver was once home to a Toy Library? A brave venture that was left out to dry as it was unsupported by city council in 1973… Likely if Jim Green had been on council at the time, he would have made sure a legacy project like a Toy Co-operative would have prospered in Vancouver. With regrets we acknowledge Jim’s passing today, and recognize all the wonderful things he did for our city.

These days it seems our province is finding it very difficult to communicate with its people as negotiations with the BC Teacher’s federation grow increasingly sticky. This might be a good time to announce the MOV is releasing applications for its second-ever Museum of Vancouver Youth Council this week!

Into the veins and arteries of city life, OpenFile Vancouver wonders if we can ever have a truly sustainable transit system at the same time as the Vancouver Sun questions the brilliance of people moving from rural countrysides en masse to metropolises! Perhaps we’d be best to move our dreams of lush green parks and walkways underground just like this proposal for a “Lowline” in NYC?

At the MOVeum: Food Resiliency talks tonight and the opening of Art Deco Chic next week!

Posted by: Zaena Campbell on February 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

It’s Museum Monday!  There’s a crispy chill in the air and the thought of cherry blossoms to come . . . It makes me yearn for a sweet rose cloche like this lovely Vancouver-made millinery from the 1920s MOV collection. Want to stay ‘jazz hot’ and flapper fabulous? Learn to flirt in a ‘peek-a-boo’ cap or test your Charleston at a “Rhythm City Strut” - who's dancers will be performing at the opening night for “Art Deco Chic” (Opening March 8, 2012)…Then come celebrate your vintage swagger with us at the MOV. 

If you're interested in learning even more about the upcoming exhibition, then check out this great video with Art Deco Chic curators Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke.

Posted by: Jillian Povarchook on February 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Vancouver olympic legacy collectionRoughly five months into cataloguing and digitizing the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Legacy Collection, it can be stated that the process is a lot more exciting than it probably should be.  Along with the torch Wayne Gretzky used to light the Olympic Cauldron and the racks of intricate costumes worn by performers in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, there are also boxes of paper material containing years of licenses, correspondences, and memos.

It’s a common assumption that paper material seldom equals gripping material. But among the inter-office scraps are pockets of brilliance, such as a collection of sketches and photographs used as inspiration for VANOC’s signature “Look of the Games”: the sweeping green and blue graphic vistas peppered with prototypically West Coast and urban motifs. It’s inspiring to leaf through a folder and see how hand cut stencils were incorporated into a design that became a second skin for Vancouver during the Games of 2010.


Vancouver Olympics stampFor the philatelists among us, international post bureau websites have been scoured to acquire information regarding Olympic issue stamps. Blindly trying to decipher Cyrillic characters on postage stamps quickly lost its novelty, but it’s fascinating to see which sports countries chose to depict. Seemingly few pandered to their Canadian host. Most stamps feature skiing, whether alpine or Nordic, over ice hockey. A personal favourite are those from Hungary, which rival the Vancouver 2010 mascots in terms of a sense of unbridled joy (or cuteness, if we’re going to get really technical).

Speaking of the mascots, we have become well versed in the surprisingly elaborate backstories of Quatchi, Miga, Sumi, and Mukmuk. This is in addition to charting their evolution from simple line drawings to 3D renderings to officially licensed Olympic merchandise and full-sized costumes.

Vancouver Olympics laughing quatchiWhile to date it has been fulfilling to discover these gems (we’ve got roughly another 1,200 objects to go), it would be a lie to say handling the medals and the torch hasn’t been a highlight. The medals are astoundingly heavy; frankly, it’s a wonder exhausted athletes didn’t crumple under their weight. Even more astonishing are the number of hands both the medals and the torch passed through, from their inception to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the nightly Victory Ceremonies.

Many of us watched as athletes bit down on their gold medals, or as the Olympic flame was passed from torch to torch. But not many of us got to watch as a print of an orca’s dorsal fin became a medal struck at the Royal Canadian Mint. The technical prints and sketches allow us to visualize the massive collective effort behind Vancouver’s Games of 2010. This is why the paper material ends up being much more gripping than one would initially expect.


Jillian Povarchook is the MOV's Collections Associate.


Subscribe to Blog