On October 16, 2015, a unique collaboration amongst three Vancouver cultural institutions was named winner of the 2015 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums. cə̓ snaʔəm, The City Before the City is an exhibition telling the story of cə̓ snaʔəm, one of the largest ancient Musqueam villages and burial sites upon which Vancouver was built. It was jointly curated by the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC, Musqueam First Nation, and Susan Roy from the University of Waterloo.
The three-location exhibition's objective is to generate public discussion about indigenous history, and to raise awareness of the significance of cə̓ snaʔəm for the Musqueam people and for Vancouver. The locations explore different aspects of the ancient village founded about 5,000 years ago at what was then the mouth of the Fraser River and is today in the Marpole area. The unified exhibits will connect visitors with one of the largest ancient village and burial sites with artifacts collected mainly in the 1920s and ‘30s and new technologies such as 3-D printing.
The Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive! is a partnership between the Canadian Museums Association and Canada’s History Society. First presented in 2011, it honours significant achievement in the historical field and encourages standards of excellence specifically in the presentation, preservation and interpretation of national, regional or local history.
“Winning such a prestigious national award is a testament to the hard work, creativity and perseverance of the curatorial teams,” says Nancy Noble, CEO of MOV. “This important exhibition has allowed the Museum to confront its own colonial past, acknowledging the actions of our predecessors and hopefully, in some small way, reconciling the many misconceptions about the Musqueam people, their history and their continued contributions to Vancouver and Canadian society.”
Gold medals were presented at Rideau Hall by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada on Friday, October 16.
The joint exhibition opened earlier this year at the Museum of Vancouver, the Museum of Anthropology and the Musqueam Cultural Centre, and continues through January 2016.
For more information about the Exhibit, please visit their website: www.thecitybeforethecity.com