Getting closer and closer every day; ANTH 431's year-long project to open March 31 at the MOA

After two years of staying six-feet apart, the Museum of Anthropology’s newest exhibit, “Closer, Closer: Miniatures, Models, And Their Stories,” encourages viewers to look “closer, closer” at the world around them. Situated in the museum’s Textile Research Lab within the Multiversity Galleries, it’s set to open on March 31 and it will run until September 2023.

The exhibit is the culmination of a year-long project by the students in ANTH 431: Museum Practice and Curatorship. The students were responsible for researching their chosen objects and creating exhibit ideas, but according to Zoe Faith McDaniels, a member of the Project Management team, the real challenge was in trying to connect everything as the days ticked down.

Still, the class rose to the occasion: “Usually, exhibits have more than four months to figure out how they're gonna come to fruition, but I'm incredibly proud of everyone and everyone's communicated so well,” they shared.

“Closer, Closer” hopes to remind its viewers to enjoy the little things, but also recognize that an object is so much more than the space it fills.

“We often think of objects as belongings or something to be owned, and I don't think that's true. I think, especially when it comes to cultural objects … they're created with varying intents, but once they're created, they take on a life of their own,” McDaniels said.

“There's really no control over how someone's going to react to seeing something, or what emotions it evokes in them, and in that sense there is no way to own an object.”

Travel objects are an integral element of the exhibit. McDaniels described them as a way to drive home the idea of agency, using items moving through time and place. “So many souvenirs are miniatures because you can slip them in your backpack and you can take them with you.”

For the speaker series, “Closer, Closer: Show and Tell”, the students invited a number of artists to speak on their miniatures and models, including Michael Soganic, known for his miniatures of Vancouver landmarks. Interested visitors can also take home a zine (available by donation) or keep up with the exhibit’s official Instagram account @moa_anth431.

Ultimately, the exhibit hopes to offer some relief in the time of doom-scrolling: a space for following your curiosity and exploring without dreading what you might find.

From beaded lizards made by prisoners of war to ancient terracotta statuettes, each object’s small size belies the significant story behind it.

“Getting to see how all of these small little objects that I personally wouldn't immediately be able to associate together … reminds me that all of these things are interconnected,” said McDaniels.