Once in a while I yawn, stretch, and look across the Moat of Georgia and notice something interesting happening in Vancouver. This time I see there are two forthcoming events for those within striking distance of the Velvet Rut.
First, UBC is holding its annual Archaeology Day this weekend, Sunday March 21st. The program, which looks great, can be viewed here. The event is free and open to the public and is held in the Anthropology and Sociology Building on the UBC Campus.
Second, the Vancouver Chapter of the Archaeological Society of BC is holding a public lecture featuring SFU professor Eldon Yellowhorn. His topic is “Encountering Modernity: the Piikani Historical Archaeology Project. The poster is below, click for a legible version. The talk is Wednesday March 24th at 7.00 at the Museum of Vancouver (who don’t seem to have it listed on their calendar), and it is free and open to the public.
Memo to the ASBC-Vancouver: update your web site if you want people to come to your talks.
Click to enlarge
Interior Petroglyph now at Museum of Vancouver, while still in Stanley Park ca. 1980. Source: DanLeen.org
I have posted several times recently on a superb interior petroglyph boulder languishing in a shady courtyard at the Museum of Vancouver. Together with Heather Pringle’s posts on this topic, we seem to have caught the attention of the Board of Directors of the Museum.
One of the Directors, Anthropology Professor Bruce Miller of UBC, called me the other day. He consented to me posting notes from our conversation. Continue reading
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, history, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast
Tagged Cultural Resource Management, Museum of Vancouver, museums, petroglyphs, repatriation, rock art, Stl'atl'imx, Vancouver
Petroglyph from Lone Creek Cabin, Stl’atl’imx Territory, now in an outdoor courtyard at the Museum of Vancouver. Source: Squamish-Lil'wat Centre.
I’ve posted before on the large petroglyph boulder from the central Fraser River that is being kept in a sub-standard context at the Museum of Vancouver. I found some more pictures of it, from the website of the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre (which is excellent). These additional pictures confirm there is a serious conservation issue at the Museum of Vancouver. I don’t want to beat a dead horse but I am still mad about this situation. Continue reading
Posted in Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Lower Mainland, Northwest Interior, Northwest Coast
Tagged conservation, Cultural Resource Management, Lil'wat, Museum of Vancouver, museums, petroglyphs, rock art, Squamish, Stl’atl’imx, Vancouver Museum
The Sechelt Image. Detail of Screenshot from the Museum of Vancouver. (click for full screen or scroll down)
The Museum of Vancouver has a pretty slick and punchy website from a design point of view, very “Web 2.0” with bright colours and links to twitter and facebook and the like. But in some respects it fails, and fails badly. Consider the image above: the “Sechelt Image”, a stone sculpture and one of the most famous objects in BC Archaeology. A single low-resolution picture is offered, a link to which is not possible, and downloads of which are deliberately made difficult. And in this protective bubble, the object can only be seen as a pale, grainy image, surrounded by the Museum’s loud and crass colour scheme. (Update: see full screenshot below: the Vancouver Museum overlays its neon social web over the Sculpture much like Vancouver itself overlays aboriginal culture).
Fine – I am used to that ridiculous phenomenon wherein Public Institutions think they own the images that they are entrusted with – if the image is allowed to be seen by the descendent communities (and in this case I wonder if it really is) then why can it not be seen in high resolution, free from the magenta borders and the exhortations to tweet!?
But the real problem is that the web designers, with their stupid and un-necessary banner reading “Sechelt Image carved stone figure”, obscure an important area of the sculpture, including the all-important vulva which reveals, as noted by Wilson Duff, that this sculpture is powerfully hermaphroditic. It is not just bad and regressive museology to cover up an important part of an object, but I believe it is deeply disrespectful as well. By obscuring part of the image and by imprisoning it within their branded frame and obfuscating web design, they, the (hopefully) temporary guardians of this powerful piece of art, are visually co-opting it for what amounts to advertising purposes. There is no reason to put your label over top of that which you claim to be displaying for its own sake; no reason other than marketing zeal and lack of control over the web designers.
You might think it was just prurience over the frankly sexual image, but below we see another image from their website with no shocking! vulva! to conceal, which has been similarly branded and bounded by the MoV. Maybe I am just mad at them still because they’re using a petroglyph boulder as a rock garden (note the obscuring “petroglyph” banner) but really: their website is an egregious example of stealth appropriation and blatant disrespect under the disguise of progressive design and social networking. And I’m just a dumb archaeologist: I’d love to see a Visual Anthropologist dissect the public face they are so eager for the world to see, the face they insist must frame every image on their website.
The Skytte stone bowl. Screenshot from the Museum of Vancouver website. Click for full screen.
The Website sends the Message: "This is Not a Place of Honour. There is No Dignity Here."
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, First Nations, Lower Mainland, Northwest Coast
Tagged hermaphrodites, Museum of Vancouver, museums, sculpture, Sechelt, Vancouver Museum, Visual Anthropology, Wilson Duff