The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) will receive seismic upgrades to its Great Hall in order to augment its structural integrity and help preserve the invaluable cultural significance and living heritage of its world-renowned Indigenous Northwest Coast collection. In addition to the seismic upgrades of the Great Hall, MOA will also receive other building improvements, such as updates to its skylights, lighting, roofing, window coverings and sprinkler system. Seismic upgrades to the Great Hall are currently in the design stage, and the roofing system and skylight replacement work has been underway for the past year.
MOA has important heritage value for UBC. The Great Hall seismic upgrades therefore involve a sensitive approach, following conservation principles that address both the heritage values and character-defining elements of the site and the building. Feedback from the Arthur Erickson Foundation has informed the architectural and construction approach to the project, ensuring the Great Hall will retain the appearance of the original space to preserve its architectural character and heritage values. Likewise, the Musqueam Indian Band has participated in planning meetings.
The design solution emerging for the seismic upgrades to the Great Hall is to utilize base isolators under the suspended main floor slab to absorb the impact of seismic activity, separating the building from the ground and from the adjoining museum structures.
In preparation for the seismic upgrades to the Great Hall, all of the massive wooden carvings that reside in the Great Hall will be lowered and relocated elsewhere in the museum ahead of the construction. MOA has liaised with Indigenous communities and families whose cultural objects are being moved from the Great Hall. They have provided input into protocols around moving and re-installing these works into the Great Hall post-construction. The safety and protection of these irreplaceable Indigenous objects is of the highest priority to MOA’s team, who will ensure they are well cared for before and during construction. Many of the poles were already lowered last fall and placed in the O’Brian Gallery adjacent to the Great Hall, where visitors have the rare opportunity to see the poles as they rest during the construction.
Once construction begins, the Great Hall will be closed while the rest of the Museum will remain open to the public. Visitors will still be able to enjoy the other exhibition spaces, including the Koerner European Ceramics Gallery, the Multiversity Galleries with more than 9,000 objects from around the world, the Elspeth McConnell Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks and the Audain Gallery that houses popular feature exhibitions. Much of the popular outdoor exhibits, including the Haida Houses and outdoor poles, will also remain accessible to the public.
More details about the seismic upgrades for MOA’s Great Hall will be posted here as they become available.