July 2012

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm

With big events like Vancouver Pride and the London summer Olympics in full swing this week,  the city is in a perfect position to reflect on where we're at, how far we've come, and where we're going. This week, MOVments looks at Vancouver's Olympic legacy, where the city is at with its fight against homophobia, and the ways that we're quantifying and collecting data on our neighbourhoods.

Olympic Dreams. Former director of city planning in Vancouver, Brent Toderian compares the common problems faced by Olympic host cities as London's games get under way. He says that London's pre-Olympics complaints may seem very familiar to Vancouverites, who also strove to strike a "balance between booster-ism and cynicism" in 2010. From Toderian's perspective, Vancouver's Olympic legacy was its adaptability in the face of obstacles and the unparalleled celebratory spirit it brought to Canada. For more on Vancouver athletes in this year's games, check out this Vancouver Courier article

Hope and Pride. With Pride Week starting this Monday, many are asking how far Vancouver has really come in tackling homophobia and transphobia. Vancouver Park Board commissioner Trevor Loke said yesterday that while we've made progress, we still have a long way to go. Cuts in funding to HIV/AIDS programs and ongoing discrimination against trans-gendered individuals in particular, continue to be challenges for LGBTQ advocates. On a positive note, Former councillor Ellen Woodsworth pointed to the position of openly gay swimmer Mark Tewksbury as leader of the Canadian team at the London Olympics as a sign of real progress. And with Pride underway, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival is just around the corner. Check out the Georgia Straight's picks for the festival.

Shaping our Neighbourhoods. The Carnegie Mellon University is using social media check-in programs like Twitter and Foursquare to compile information about neighbourhoods in various cities, including Vancouver, for their new Livehoods project. When smartphone users check-in to nearby locations, the program produces coloured constellations on a map, revealing neighbourhoods shaped by collective preferences and distribution patterns. Interestingly, the movements on Livehoods reflect, but rarely match, the city's official neighbourhood boundaries. 

Feeding the Masses. And finally in unrelated (but delicious) news: Vancouver had its third annual Amazing Grilled Cheese Giveaway on Saturday. Check out the Vancouver is Awesome post for some photos of the happy sandwich eaters on Union Street.

At the MOVeum:
August 16 - Volunteer Information Session

[Image: Social media map of Vancouver. Courtesy of]
Posted by: Viviane Gosselin on July 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Sex Talk in the City blog

Let’s face it; the Internet has become the most popular “sexual educator” for people of all ages. In light of this, we’re using the section of the exhibition dedicated to exploring the ways people learn about sexuality (the Pedagogy Zone) to address the question of media literacy and the need for children and youth to cope with the barrage of sexually explicit material online (as consumer and creator).

In working on this, a Vancouver-based law firm offered to cover the cost of having their articling students look at the intersection of law, social media, and the dissemination of sexually explicit material. I just received the last version of their text and LOVE their idea of re-packaging key information in the form of tweets!

Here are couple of examples:

Text messages that describe sexual activity, or “sexting”, is only illegal if it describes unlawful sex. [105 characters]

Teens can be charged with a criminal offense for taking pictures/videos of obscene sexual activity and sending them to friends. [130 characters]

If you don’t teach your teens about privacy, sexuality and social media, where will they learn? [98 characters]

I asked the two law students to reflect on their experience working on this project:

This summer we were asked to do some legal research for the upcoming Sex Talk in the City Exhibition. Our focus was social media, which is relevant in today’s world of smart phones, posting, and instant technology in general. We also researched the evolution of consent by looking at legislation and court cases. These topics complement and contrast each other since social media is modern and contemporary while consent has a long history in Canadian law. The biggest challenge we faced was condensing all the information we found into an easy-to-read format for the exhibition, since the law in these areas is complex and always changing. But that is also what makes legal research so much fun, believe it or not! Being involved in this project has given us the opportunity to discover more about the evolving relationship between the law, social media, sexual activity, and consent. We hope that everyone involved in the exhibition — from the creators and staff to the public at large — will find these issues just as interesting as we did.

Emelie and Amanda are law students in Vancouver.

Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Win a seat on a private patio with 100.5 The PEAK during The Celebration of Light Fireworks!
100.5 The PEAK wants you to experience The Celebration of Light Fireworks in VIP Style at The Museum of Vancouver's Fireworks Patio Party!

On August 1st, Brazil will be lighting up the sky and you and a guest could be enjoying it from The Museum of Vancouver's private patio in Vanier Park with 100.5 The PEAK. You'll get a gourmet Brazilian BBQ courtesy of The Butler Did It Catering - voted Vancouver's Best Catering Company - and Lonsdale Event Rentals will be donating all the party supplies.

The only way to join 100.5 The PEAK at The Museum of Vancouver's Fireworks Patio Party is to win your way in!

Listen to PEAK Mornings at 9:30am to win a spot for you and a friend on the exclusive guest list and keep your eye on The 100.5 The PEAK - World Class Rock Facebook Page because we'll be giving away a few invites there too. Plus, we have some spots saved just for PEAK VIPs, so increase your chances of joining us by entering online now. Not a PEAK VIP? sign up today.

* The Online Contest closes Sunday, July 29 at Midnight.
* You Must be 19 + to attend this event.

Learn more using the The Museum of Vancouver as a venue to host your next event.

Find out more about The Butler Did It Catering - Affordable Elegance at and Lonsdale Event Rentals at

Thanks also to Mark Anthony Wines and R&B Brewing!

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

We here at the MOV just discovered that Vancouver has two of the 10 largest green roofs in the world. This article on the history and logistics of green rooftops got us thinking more broadly about our tendency towards stacking, extending, and expanding in the city. From condo culture to mall expansions, this week we're exploring the direction of growth in Vancouver, and more often than not, we're looking up, way up. 
Living in Isolation. It seems like we can hardly get through an instalment of MOVments without running up against the ever-present density debate. This week, Gordon Price's blog featured a fascinating segment of Walrus TV which compares contemporary condominium developments to what Northrope Frye described as the "garrison mentality" of isolated, early Canadian pioneer settlements. Necessary viewing for anyone interested in the cultural challenges of condo living. 
Rethinking Affordable Housing. The winners of the City's re:THINK Housing competition will be announced next week on July 30. The competition was designed to bring the general public together with architects, planners, and non-profits to discuss bold, creative, affordable housing solutions in Vancouver. With any luck, there will also be some ideas around how to combat the isolating effects of high-rise developments.
Growing Pains. There are some who think that crowd-sourcing won't be enough, and that Vancouver is at a planning turning point, in need of drastic (and de-politicized) change. Lance Berelowitz asks some tough but timely questions in this opinion piece about the direction of the City's planning strategies. As he says, "The city needs a forward-looking, comprehensive plan. We need to come to grips with what kind of city we want to be; with chronic housing unaffordability; with a city of increasing haves and have nots; with transit underfunding and transportation conflicts; with the challenges of intensifying our land uses and densifying our limited residential land base..." Definitely food for thought.
Mall City. Already one of the most successful shopping centres in Canada, Oakridge Mall at Cambie and 41st is set to expand upward and outward. A proposal has been made to develop the mall into a small city, complete with parks and community bike paths. Defying the trend of declining sales at American malls, Oakridge, with customers streaming in via the Canada Line, seems to be uniquely positioned to take on such a project. 
Stacking It. And finally, have you ever wondered about the story behind the towers of books and chaotic floor plan at MacLeod's Books? This profile on owner Don Stewart is a fantastic read. 
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Green Roof at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Photo by Harry2010]
Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on July 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Sofa in the 1960s/1970s gallery

Over the last year I’ve certainly come to love the couch from our 1960s/70s gallery, So You Say You Want a Revolution. “I think my friends have a couch like that,” many people say, laughing about the longevity (albeit tattered condition) of the old sofa and how it seemed to symbolize every student household or artist space even through to today.

Sadly, last week, the old brown couch had to go into retirement. The sofa was from around 1935, and lived in the “hippie house”, where it served for many years as a back drop to photo shoots and children playing dress up.

We’re now on the hunt for a new (to us) sofa, and maybe you can help!

We’re looking for a vintage sofa that is pre 1960s (afterall, hippies in the 1970s didn’t have money for new couches!). Something that might be living in your basement or attic will be suitable. Ideally it will be well-used, maybe even a few tears, certainly some stains, but please, not re-upholstered.

Have a couch? Email Director of Collections and Exhibitions, Joan, at jseidl (at)  

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 18, 2012 at 7:44 am

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Vancouver bike laneThis week's MOVments has us thinking about what it means to make a mark (both literally and figuratively) on the city and beyond. From neighbourhood banners, landmark treaties, and public infrastructure we are exploring the ways that Vancouver is being marked, shaped, and influenced by the people who live here.

Kits Pride. In Kitsilano, residents are marking their streets with signs that proclaim their love for the neighbourhood. The Kitsilano Neighbourhood House started the 'Kits Me-Love the hood you're in!' project to give locals the opportunity to share what makes the area special to them. Each banner features a photograph of the contributor and a quote, with people talking about everything from Kitsilano's walkability to its famous farmers' market.

Treaty Approved. After some hiccups, the Sliammon First Nation has approved a treaty with the federal and provincial governments. The agreement will give the Sunshine Coast group 8,300 hectares of land and $30 million over 10 years. Chief Clint Williams takes a practical view of the milestone event, saying "Now the real hard work starts."

Vancouver: Richest Canadian City (For Now). Nationally, Vancouver has set a record by coming in as the country's richest city for 2011 according to Environics Analytics WealthScapes. But there's speculation about how long this will last given the level of debt financing happening in Vancouver. And there's also the little matter of the declining housing market.

Velo City. As Luke Brocki reports, Vancouver is a long way off from being the benchmark in cycling infrastructure and bike-ability. In this case, it looks like we'll need to take cues from cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, and Portland. Global experts at last month's Velo-city bike planning conference challenged Vancouver to move beyond helmet issues to creating more separated bike lanes and increasing the total number of trips taken by bikes.

Seawall Politics. Controversy continues to swirl around what would be a new line drawn on the city: a proposed continuation of the seawall linking Kitsilano Beach to Jericho Beach. Critics have been quick to point out the cost involved and the problems associated with private funding of public works. As OpenFile reports, Vancouverites have historically been pretty outspoken about what happens with our public spaces, and the seawall is no exception.

At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers

[Image: Vancouver bike path. Photo by Charles Lamoureux]

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Community garden near Rogers arenaVancouver is changing and growing so fast that, as Gordon Price reports, its newest neighbourhood doesn't even have a name yet. But if we look closely, we can see that a lot of our old ideas and landscapes are actually being repurposed, redesigned, and redefined. This week's MOVments explores the ways Vancouverites are reusing old spaces, re-imagining affordable housing and urban planning, and putting a new spin on a time-honored tradition: the business lunch.

Redefining Growth. Much to our delight, SOLEfood, Vancouver's largest urban farm, has outgrown its first home in a parking lot on East Hastings. Using a social enterprise model and employing over 20 people from the Downtown Eastside, the urban farm just opened its second location under the Georgia Street viaduct. As The Tyee explains much of SOLEfood's success has come from from garnering community support; the farm has received multiple grants, help from local business owners, and a free three-year lease for its new spot on Pacific Boulevard.

Video Stores Live.  With the demise of big-chain stores like Blockbuster and Rogers, They Live (formerly Cinephile) is one of a handful of independent video rental shops in Vancouver that is still making a go of it in an increasingly Internet-dominated business. Like Black Dog and Limelight Video, They Live is filling a niche, catering to those who are searching for hard to find titles and a little personal interaction. And as with other local businesses and art spaces, diversification is the name of the game; They Live will also be offering live music and film screenings.

Rethinking Homelessness. In the midst of so much change, UN representative Miloon Kothari says one thing has stayed pretty much the same since his last visit to Vancouver in 2007: the city's affordable housing crisis. In his interview with The Tyee, Kothari gave a sobering account of the crisis, which he says is caused in part by too much emphasis on market solutions. He suggests that it's time to completely re-frame the housing issue: "What you see in Canada and what you see in the United States is that housing is seen as a commodity and not as a social good. If it's treated as a social good, then the whole thinking will change."

Shifting Planning Policy. Judging from our situation in Vancouver, it looks like the new generation of Canadian urban planners have quite a task ahead of them. This fascinating Globe and Mail article explores the shifts currently taking place in urban planning policy and power assignment. While cities across the country face diverse challenges, Vancouver's former co-planning director, Larry Beasley, is excited at the prospect of a new generation of Canadian urban planners taking on roles as visionaries and risk takers.

The Evolution of Lunch. And finally, on a lighter note: the Vancouver Public Space Network and Space2Place are co-hosting communal outdoor lunches every Thursday this month. Long cafeteria tables, food specials from local vendors, and musical entertainment are making Abbott Street the place to be for an afternoon meal, whether you work in the area or not.

At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers

[New SOLEfood location on Pacific Boulevard. Photo by David Niddrie]

Posted by: Jillian Povarchook on July 9, 2012 at 11:48 am

At the MOV, I work in storage. Sometimes I wish I could do this in the dark as there are some artefacts that make my imagination run a little too wildly in the wrong direction. I avert my eyes as quickly as possible when I am in the general vicinity of the following things: a Sto:lo sculpture of an anthropomorphic figure holding a salmon, a life sized papier-mâché sculpture of Mike Harcourt in jogging gear, and the mounted head of some prehistoric thing that looks like Jabba the Hut.
What I love to look at most, however, is always in my line of sight; our Curator of Collections was lovely enough to hang it on the art rack right beside my desk. It is the Pacific Press Chapel Slipboard (catalogue no. H2011.58.11a-x) and it is beautiful.

Pacific Press chapel slipboard

The term “chapel slipboard” is almost an artefact itself, a holdover from a time when labour organizations were largely illegal and union members met under the guise of attending “chapel meetings”. This particular slipboard was used from 1957 to 1997 to manage rights to union work for members of the International Typographical Union (ITU) working at the Pacific Press newspapers (the Vancouver Sun and The Province) in Vancouver. The slipboard hung in the Pacific Press composing room, eventually located on South Granville St. at West 6th Ave.

Though most workers at the Pacific Press belonged to the Vancouver Typographical Union Local 226, the slipboard system allowed ITU members from all over North America to find work in Vancouver. The travelling printer’s “slip” (a card showing their name and trade skills) was placed on the substitute board (on the right as you face the board). Regular chapel member’s names are shown in a separate area (on the left as you face the board), which was kept under lock and key. The chapel chair (union representative) operated the slipboard, which was used to determine shifts, days off, and vacations based on seniority. If a regular member wished time off, they could hire a substitute to cover their job for up to 30 days.

I love the visual history contained on this board as I’m sure union activity as described above is now conducted on a computer. It must have been very stressful as a travelling worker, waiting for your slip to be selected from the board and Mike Harcourt in paper machesatisfying when it finally was. It must also have been very satisfying as a regular member to see your name move up in seniority over the years. In fact, the names of the regular members on this board were the last members of Local 226 to negotiate lifetime employment with Pacific Press, a concept that today must sound completely alien to many ears.

Even if this artefact lacked such a detailed union history, I would still love it. It’s a stunning object, the raised brass letters casting slight shadows on the backing board which is painted a curious shade of Wedgewood blue. And there is something very romantic about a list of names kept under lock and key. I see them out of the corner of my eye every day, taunting my imagination to compose elaborate back stories for the men (and maybe few women) who would print the news for the entirety of their working lives.

There are some downsides to working in storage — there are no windows, it often feels cold and damp, and the spooky papier-mâché silhouettes of former mayors lurk around dark corners. It’s not too bad of a trade-off, though, getting to gaze upon and learn about objects whose lives are often much longer and more storied than our own.


Posted by: Danielle Lafrance on July 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Sex Talk in the City blog header

While reading Greg Smith’s post on the Sex Talk in the City blog, I got to thinking. Greg’s idea of sexual “hang-ups” seem to have a lot to do with the process of medicalizing sexuality in the 19th and 20th century.

The medicalization of sexuality is not only the construction of sexuality in medical language or the act of mandating interventions (which has led to significant public health improvements), it is also the introduction of pathology and medical explanations used to frame “deviant” behaviours. Hysteria, homosexuality, and transsexuality have a history of being explained as medical disorders in order to defend what is thought of as normal sexual behaviour and what isn’t. As Sex Talk in the City will remind us, these constructions are felt in the present day and do affect our sexual experiences – they lead us to understand ourselves within these medical terms, sometimes out of necessity, due to a lack of alternative language.

When discussing sexuality we can’t forget the work of French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. Foucault demonstrates how “repressive pathology” has a quality of administrative inquiry into our private lives. It confines sex to the 'privacy' of the home while maintaining a wider, external world of repressed sexual expression. Pierre E. Trudeau's famous declaration in 1967, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation," highlights the tension between the state and the individual, and through omission suggests that sexuality and sexual expression belong only in the bedroom.

Sex Talk in the City isn’t necessarily unique. It is a process of construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of the meanings attached to sexual experience and sexual conduct. Through its position of authority (coming from a museum), the exhibition can’t help but be part of the medicalization of sexuality. However, the exhibition also provides space to negotiate how authorities have affected our individual impressions of sexuality.

Knowing that the development of vibrators was an experiment in speeding up the female orgasm and finding out the “hidden truth” of a woman’s sexuality changes the ritual and may bring up new questions to the visitors. Will the audience second guess its usage? Or maybe the historical element will enter the arena of new fantasies, a new taboo? I wonder how the exhibition and the knowledge it produces will challenge power (the institution, the tools) and how might it be the same mechanism that misrepresents. 

Sex Talk and the City is a self-reflexive exhibition. It’s conscious of misrepresentation by defining itself in these fluid terms, using humour to suggest another world to be probed. It’s radical but careful. The multi-media nature of the exhibition “allows” multiple access points to sexual discourse. The history of the vibrator installation not only uses dresser drawers to augment mom and dad’s secret treasures (Joy of Sex, anyone?), but can also act as a sexual confession, a clinical codification behind the doctor’s door. The museum itself waits, coyly, for our Visit the Sex Talk tumblrattention.

Danielle LaFrance is a digitization assistant at the Museum of Vancouver, and is the author of Species Branding (2010).

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on July 3, 2012 at 7:59 am

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Herons in Stanley ParkThis weekend there were plenty of reasons for Vancouverites to get together and make some noise. Read on for some of the week's happenings that had people cheering, jeering, and everything in between.

Denouncing Sexual Violence. This Saturday, hundreds of people came out for Vancouver's second annual SlutWalk, protesting the culture of victim-blaming that surrounds rape and sexual assault. The Georgia Straight explains that the movement stems from comments made last year by a Toronto police officer who suggested that women could stop dressing like "sluts" in order to avoid dangerous situations. For more photos from the event check out The Province's coverage.

Mixed Emotions on Canada Day. Whether your Canada Day involved the downtown parade and fireworks or a sampling of the food cart delicacies and music at the Waldorf Hotel, there were enough festivities to satisfy almost everyone this Sunday. However, anti-war activists protesting the military display downtown were less than exuberant. And World Cup fans rooting for Italy didn't have much to cheer about as their team lost out to Spain on Sunday. Commercial Drive, known as Vancouver's Little Italy, had been buzzing with excitement (and rowdiness) leading up to the game.

Shout Out for West Coast Comedy. The Canadian Comedy Awards are coming up and Vancouver's own Sunday Service is up for a number of awards including "Best Improv Troupe" and "Best Web Clip." That's quite a feat given that the award show is known for focusing more on Toronto-based comedians than "far-flung" West Coast and Maritime acts. Good luck to the Vancouver-based nominees this year!

Squawking in Stanley Park. And lastly, the good folks at Vancouver is Awesome recently clued us into the existence of a charmingly loud congregation of herons living in Stanley Park. Follow the link for more on the heronry (including what kinds of sounds the baby birds make and how you can adopt a nest).

At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers

[Image: Great blue heron in Stanley Park. Photo by Jim Simandl]