UBC Museum of Anthropology Receives National Landmark Status

 The University of British Columbia’s iconic Museum of Anthropology, designed by the renowned late architect Arthur Erickson, has received one of Canada’s most prestigious architectural awards.

The museum is one of four buildings to receive the 2011 Prix du XXe Siècle Award for enduring excellence in Canadian architecture from Architecture Canada | RAIC, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Robson Square, whose occupants include UBC, is also one of the honoured buildings.

“These iconic buildings have stood the test of time and become national landmarks,” said Alex Rankin, Chancellor of the RAIC College of Fellows. “They are a testament to how architecture can add quality-of-life to society. They are proof positive that architecture matters.”

Dramatically located on cliffs overlooking the Pacific ocean, the 80,000-square-foot museum is internationally known for its Pacific Northwest Coast collections, research and teaching, public programs and community connections. Since it opened in 1976, the museum has been one Canada’s top cultural attractions, drawing more than 140,000 visitors annually.  

“Having the Museum of Anthropology recognized as one of Canada’s most significant buildings is truly an honour,” says Moya Waters, Acting Director, Museum of Anthropology. “The award is a fitting tribute to Arthur Erickson and landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander, whose passion, vision and commitment to creating an iconic building and landscape that are respectful of the collections and cultures represented here, is appreciated by all Canadians and citizens of the world.”

Another building to receive the 2011 Prix du XXe Siècle Award is Vancouver’s Robson Square, also designed by Erickson, which houses UBC’s downtown programs and was a major celebration site during the 2010 Olympic Games. Ottawa’s Train Station and the University of Regina’s Heating and Cooling Plant are also 2011 recipients.

Find photos of the Museum of Anthropology and other 2011 Prix du XXe Siècle Award recipients at:


For information on MOA’s history, collections, exhibits, and programs, please visit www.moa.ubc.ca or contact:


About the Museum of Anthropology

The Museum of Anthropology building was designed by renowned Canadian architect and urban planner Arthur Erickson (1924-2009), who based his award-winning design on traditional Northwest Coast post and beam structures. For more than 35 years, the museum has been one of Canada’s best known buildings internationally.

It has received numerous awards, including the Governor General Award for Architecture (1989), and was named Canada’s top tourist attraction by the Canadian Tourism Commission (1983). Its use of natural light and materials, respect for its environment and impressive detailing express both the essence of West Coast style and Erickson’s own exquisite and refined sense of design. The Great Hall’s carpeted floors and soaring glass walls create a seamless transition from interior space to the outdoors, an imaginary coastal inlet, now graced by a beautiful reflecting pool. The museum grounds were designed by landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander. They feature indigenous plants and grasses amongst two outdoor Haida Houses and ten full-scale totem poles (one inside the larger of the two Haida Houses), and two carved house-posts and a ‘Welcome Figure.’

Features include:

  • A ‘Welcome Plaza’ showcases contemporary works by Musqueam artists Susan Point and Joe Becker
  • Massive doors carved in 1976 by master Gitxsan artists, Walter Harris, Earl Muldoe, Art Sterritt, and Vernon Stephens
  • The ‘Rotunda,’ where Bill Reid's massive sculpture, “The Raven and the First Men” is displayed
  • An outdoor reflecting pool, which represents a coastal inlet
  • The 15-metre glass walls of the Great Hall overlooking totem poles from the Haida, Gitxsan, Nisga'a, Oweekeno and other First Nations
  • An internationally recognized collection of more than 38,000 artifacts
  • The Koerner European Ceramics Gallery houses 600 pieces of 15-19th C. pottery.

In 2010, a major $52-million expansion and renewal project doubled the size of the museum and created new opportunities for research, teaching and public viewing.

The Museum of Anthropology stands on the traditional lands of the Musqueam people and acknowledges the continuing spiritual power of aboriginal culture.


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