Museum of Anthropology announces 2023 closures for earthquake safety upgrades

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) will close from January 16 until late 2023 to finish ongoing earthquake safety upgrades, according to a MOA email broadcast on December 8. The museum will remain open for virtual events, behind-the-scenes in-person tours and ongoing Indigenous initiatives.

This round of construction is part of a series of seismic safety upgrades to the Great Hall which began in November 2020 to increase resilience for the museum’s irreplaceable collections as well as patron safety in the event of an earthquake.

According to MOA Director Susan Rowley, the closures are due to complex factors including construction industry supply chain issues. After consulting with a contractor, they decided that “closing from mid-January to late fall was the best way to move forward.”

Your last opportunity to visit the museum as a visitor for a while is January 15. However, according to Rowley, researchers can visit the MOA library and archives until the end of March from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., and by appointment for the rest of 2023.

Rowley also said select programs will continue to run throughout the construction, focusing on maintaining Indigenous access to the museum’s culturally-important resources and collections.

“The Native Youth Program, which has been running at the museum for 41 years, will continue,” said Rowley. “The Indigenous Internship Program, which has 2 cohorts every year, will also continue to run throughout the time period.”

MOA also holds regular educational visits from both UBC classes and local secondary schools. While many educational tours will move online, Rowley said that some in-person visits will continue when construction permits so “students ... can come in and spend time with works in the collections.”

Rowley said there will be periods where the museum will be closed entirely, including from late January to early February, while they move fragile collections to upgrade skylights for earthquake preparedness.

The closure periods are also an opportunity for the museum to change some of their exhibit design to better reflect their collections and mission.

“We’re also working on redoing the messaging in the Great Hall," said Rowley. "We’re working with Indigenous community members and rights-holders for the labels for the massive carvings — the histories and stories that they want to convey to the general public.”

MOA hopes to physically steward the collections through seismic upgrades, but also to continually improve the way that the museum displays and interacts with Indigenous materials.

“Museums are living breathing institutions,” said Rowley. “As we work towards being transparent about the history of museums, there’s a sea change that is happening to make sure the public understands … [their] colonial history.”