UBC shows off collection of textiles from around the world
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is currently displaying 130 unique pieces of clothing, robes, blankets, and other textiles with the new Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures exhibit. The collection has fine examples of woven craftsmanship from around the world, from Chinese silk shirts to Scandinavian funeral wraps to Coast Salish blankets.
The assemblage was unfolded from UBC’s textiles collection, and goes beyond showing simple, everyday clothing. It places an emphasis on the roles clothes and costumes play in demonstrating “prestige, power, and spiritual connection,” according to the MoA homepage. Each display is supplemented with an explanation of the materials used, the context it would be worn in, and when that particular item was made. Most of the items were processed through the adjacent UBC textile research lab, which is a new addition to the MoA, alongside an oral histories lab.
The garments are displayed in the Audain Gallery, and are hung up in a beautifully-lit room for optimal viewing. No matter how pretty they are, touching anything in the exhibit is strictly prohibited, as well as any flash photography. Some of the more valuable items, such as a set of centuries-old Maori cloaks, are in a display case for their own protection.
If you have any questions, there are museum staff at hand happy to help with the identification of anything at the exhibit. It’s open during all the regular museum hours and tours can be booked online for a richer experience, as with all the collections they have. There is also a current “mini-exhibit” running, recounting the life and cultural impact of First Nations advocate Mabel Stanley and her donated collection of regalia and artifacts.
The exhibit proudly shows off MoA’s impressive collection. One section has Hindi wedding dresses and fabrics, including a veil made of silk so thin, it’s transparent and silver at the same time. Another section shows contemporary ‘ and Chinook blankets, with notes from their creators on the blankets’ emotional and spiritual significance. Another section has a wall of majestic purple or yellow imperial Chinese robes and high-collared dresses, connected to vibrant blues from Central and West African dresses. The museum curator, Dr. Jennifer Kramer, has taken full advantage of the global diversity that the Museum of Anthropology has to offer.
The Layers of Influence exhibit runs until April 9, at which point it will be taken down in preparation for the upcoming Amazonia exhibit.