The Museum of Vancouver is an attraction that should be firmly rooted at the top of any history buff’s Vancouver travel itinerary.
While not likely to be confused with Rome, our city has a much longer and more interesting history than many would imagine.
And as always we’re here to help you understand it, with a complete visitor’s guide to this popular attraction. And remember, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, don’t hesitate to give us a shout in the comment section below.
But in the meantime, lets get started.
The Museum of Vancouver
Located on unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, the Vancouver area has been home to local indigenous peoples for well over 5000 years.
This award winning civic-history museum aims to teach you about the city before the city, before delving into Vancouver’s dramatic transformation into the stunning metropolis we see today.
Housed in a unique Gerald-Hamilton designed building, the facility is composed of three quadrangles bordering its characteristic conical structure. This extraordinary design is intended to mimic the shape of a traditional Indigenous woven basket hat.
The entrance and lobby of this location is shared with the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, though the Museum of Vancouver is the larger of the two facilities. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to explore two fantastic museums during one trip.
The museum’s permanent exhibits contain a substantial collection of artifacts, memorabilia and fully-interactive displays examining the history of Vancouver.
As an added bonus, the MOV also houses one of the largest collections of Pacific-Northwest Coast Indigenous artifacts, carvings and antiquities in Canada.
This is all accompanied by a rotating cast of temporary exhibits that cover a wide variety of topics; from Coastal First Nations art to Asian and Egyptian antiquities.
To see what’s on during your visit, check out the Museum of Vancouver website.
Originally founded in 1894, the MOV is Vancouver’s oldest museum and the largest civic-history museum in Canada. It was originally housed in the Carnegie Centre on the city’s Downtown Eastside, before moving to a dedicated facility on Burrard Street in 1957.
In 1967, the MOV relocated to it’s current home in Vanier Park, which also houses the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the Vancouver Archives and the Vancouver Academy of Music.
This unique facility is one of the most immediately identifiable buildings in the city, and is thus considered to be iconic by many Vancouverites.
The MOV has since gone on to become one of the most important cultural institutions in the city, a popular tourist attraction and one of our favourite things to do.
How to Get to the Museum of Vancouver
Address: 1100 Chestnut Street
The MOV is located in Vanier Park in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano on Vancouver’s Westside. The park is situated a short distance from Granville Island just across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver.
While not located near a Skytrain station, the museum is easily accessible from downtown via the #2 or #32 bus, the False Creek Ferry and the Seawall.
The Museum of Vancouver can be easily reached via the #2 Macdonald and #32 Dunbar buses. You can grab both of these options along Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver.
- Find a bus stop located along the Westside of Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver. Board the #2 Macdonald or #32 Dunbar bus and pay your fare ($3.00 or $2.40 using a Compass Card).
- Stay aboard the bus until it crosses the Burrard Street Bridge and reaches the intersection of Cornwall Avenue and Cypress Street. (The journey should take 10 minutes)
- After exiting the bus, walk back in the direction you came for a block until you reach Chestnut Street. Take a left on Chestnut and head North for around 500 metres until you reach Whyte Avenue.
- You’ll see the distinctive conical structure of the Museum of Vancouver on the Northwest corner of the street.
For more information check out our Vancouver Public Transportation users guide.
For exact schedules head on over to the Translink Bus Schedule page.
False Creek Ferries
There are two companies that offer commuter ferry service amongst a variety of stops located throughout False Creek.
Be sure to select the False Creek Ferries, as Aquabus does not provide service to Vanier Park.
- Locate a stop servicing route 4 of the False Creek Ferries. This includes the Aquatic Centre (located in the West-end of Downtown) and Granville Island.
- Purchase your ticket for the Maritime Museum, it’ll cost $4.50 one way or $7.50 return for an adult.
- Enjoy the ride until you reach the Maritime Museum Station.
- Upon exiting the vessel, walk up to the top of the dock and you’ll see the Maritime Museum about 100 metres up the path on your left.
- Continue South past the MM parking lot and follow Chestnut Street for about 300 metres. You’ll see the conical structure of the MOV on your left. Ask your skipper for directions if you are unsure.
For schedules, tickets and more information check out the False Creek Ferry website.
One more little known way to reach the Museum of Vancouver is on foot or by bicycle along the famous Seawall, the world’s longest uninterrupted urban waterfront path.
Extending from the Vancouver Convention Centre downtown to Spanish Banks Park near UBC, the Seawall passes right through Vanier Park. This makes it a great alternative for visitors who’d like to get a little exercise on their way to the museum.
If you already happen to be visiting Granville Island, the Museum of Vancouver is only a 15-20 minute walk along False Creek, where you’ll be granted with spectacular views of English Bay, the North Shore Mountains and the Vancouver skyline.
Otherwise, it is about a 20 minute bike ride from Yaletown, on the edge of the downtown core.
For online bike rentals our friends at Viator.
Museum of Vancouver Hours
The MOV is open 7 days a week. The hours of operation can be found below:
We’d recommend allotting about 1.5-2 hours for you visit.
Museum of Vancouver Prices
The price of admission can be found below.
*Students must posses valid ID.
**Family rates include two adults/seniors and up to 3 youth.
***The MOV is free for individuals who self-identify as Indigenous.
Museum of Vancouver Pay What You Can Nights
Admission on the last Thursday of every month is by donation only from 5:00pm-8:00pm.
This is one of the best deals in the city, so we’d highly recommend taking advantage if you’re here on one of these dates.
Entry to the Museum of Vancouver is also available through a variety of exciting ticket packages that are offered in tandem with the neighbouring H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and Vancouver Maritime Museum.
The packages provide visitors with entry to two or three of the aforementioned museums for one low price!
If you’re interested, tickets are available online at the VMM website or in person at the visitor service desks of each museum.
MOV/H.R. Macmillan Space Centre Dual Pass
The Dual Pass is valid over multiple days and includes one entry to each of the Museum of Vancouver and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
*Can be purchased in person at the visitor service desk of either facility.
Vanier Explore Pass
The Vanier Explore Pass is valid over multiple days and includes one entry to each museum located within Vanier Park; the Museum of Vancouver, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
*Passes can be purchased at the visitor service desk of any of the three facilities, or online at the VMM website.
Museum of Vancouver Exhibits
Vancouver is located on unceded Coast Salish territory. This means that indigenous land title in the area was never ceded through war, treaty or surrender.
In fact, before the arrival of the British, the Vancouver area was home to a number of vibrant settlements of the Squamish, Tsliel–Waututh and Musqueam First Nations.
Consequently, Ćəsnaʔəm, the city before the city is the first exhibit in the history gallery at the Museum of Vancouver. After all, how can you understand the history of the city of Vancouver without understanding what came before it?
A collaborative effort between the MOV and the Musqueam First Nation, Ćəsnaʔəm aims to generate public discussion and awareness about indigenous history and culture.
- Over 1500 bone, stone and shell artifacts
- Interactive 3D modelling displays
- Hən’q’əmin’əm language lesson
- The opportunity to “meet” community members through recorded interviews
The exhibit attempts to analyze the artifacts through the lense of colonialism and “right history” by allowing the Musqueam First Nation the opportunity to share their own knowledge, culture and history.
After exploring the area’s indigenous history, visitors are invited to take a quick trip through a series of exhibits that explore the history of Vancouver in chronological order.
1900’s-1920’s: Gateway to the Pacific
This exhibit explores a time when Vancouver was transforming from a backwater pioneer outpost to a vital Pacific gateway for Canada and the entire British Empire.
As the newly crowned hub of the Canadian Pacific Railroad and Canada’s main Pacific Port, Vancouver was in the midst of it’s first real estate frenzy, with streetcars springing up in every direction.
Large groups of Chinese, Japanese and South-Indian migrants arrived with the promise of jobs in this booming port city. Learn about the deep prejudices they faced in the Komagatu Maru incident and the Anti-Asiatic Riot of 1907.
1930’s-1940’s: Boom, Bust and War
In 1929, the City of Vancouver joined the neighbouring towns of South Vancouver and Point Grey, to give us the city we see today.
However, shortly after came the crash of 1929, bringing in a time of lost jobs, evictions and foreclosures. This exhibit explores what life was like in depression era Vancouver.
The arrival of World War 2 welcomed boom times back to the city, with it’s wealth of natural resources and extensive shipbuilding industry.
However, it also gave impulse one of Canada’s greatest shames, the wartime internment of Japanese-Canadians. Listen to their stories and marvel at their courage in this particularly poignant section of the history galleries.
1950’s: The 50’s Gallery
Experience the hopeful dreams of post-war Vancouver in the neighbourhood of Fraserview, where returning veterans move into a glut of new housing.
Watch as the city transforms itself, with the removal of the majority of it’s streetcar lines in favour of the automobile.
Did you know that in the 1950’s Vancouver had approximately 19,000 neon signs? That is more than the city of Las Vegas!
While some believed that these lights signalled excitement and sophistication, others felt they were a blight on the city’s natural beauty. The later argument eventually won out, and most of the lights would eventually be removed.
However, in the Neon Vancouver Gallery, the MOV has accumulated an extraordinary collection of signs which they have rescued from the junkyard.
This popular exhibit provides visitors with a glimpse at many of the original signs for an insight into a phenomenon unique to post-war Vancouver.
1960’s-1970’s You Say You Want a Revolution
In the 1960’s and 70’s Vancouver became the hippie capital of Canada and a destination for youth seeking an alternative way of life.
Due to its cheap rents and tolerant atmosphere, Kitsilano became Canada’s answer to Haight-Asbury. Visit a model of a hippie house, try on some hippie clothing and listen to a selection of Vancouver bands from the era.
Later on in the 1970’s Vancouver almost changed forever. A proposal called for the destruction of Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhoods; Gastown and Chinatown. They were to be replaced with an American-style freeway along the city’s waterfront.
See how Vancouver’s counterculture movement banded together with business owners and area residents to defeat the proposal, resulting in the saviour of these historic districts.
Vancouver is uniquely situated in an ancient rainforest at the confluence of the North Shore Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
As a consequence, it is no surprise that nature plays a very strong role in the lives of Vancouverites.
The Wild Things Gallery delves into the stories of how local plants and animals manage to relate to each other and connect urban residents to nature.
The gallery possesses a scenic design and houses numerous interactive displays, taxidermy models and crowd sourcing technology to breath life into it’s tales of co-habitation and perseverance.
Visitors are encouraged to examine their relationship to the natural environment and disengage themselves from their devices in the pursuit of equilibrium with the natural world.
Running until April 2020, the Haida Now Gallery is a presented in partnership with the Haida Gwaii Museum. A visual feast of innovation and tradition, the exhibit displays over 450 works of Haida Art, a number unparalleled in any other museum.
Featuring guest curation by Haida chief Kwiaahwah Jones, the gallery allows local Haida artists the opportunity to share their insights and knowledge about their spectacular pieces.
This is a must see exhibit for fans of First Nations art and history.
The Haida Now exhibit also offers complimentary 30 minute tours. This presents visitors with the unique opportunity to hear local artists discuss the key images and themes found throughout their works.
These tours come highly recommended.
- Winter (Oct-Apr)—–11:30am & 1:30pm (Fri-Mon)
- Summer (May-Sep)–11:30am & 1:30pm (daily)
- *Tours are free with admission
If you don’t see anything that tickles your fancy, there is always a rotating cast of temporary exhibitions at the Museum of Vancouver.
For more information, we recommend visiting the Museum of Vancouver website. Then you can see what is on display when you plan to visit.
Before we bring this article to a close we’ll leave you with a few quick tips for your visit to the Museum of Vancouver.
1) Purchase a Vanier Park Explorer Pass
We recommend visiting the other museums located within Vanier Park, the H.R Macmillan Space Centre and the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
If you’re interested, there are all inclusive passes available that include entry to either 2 or 3 of these attractions for one low price. The passes offer visitors a significant savings over purchasing entry separately.
2) Visit via the Seawall
The Museum of Vancouver is located a short 15 minute walk from Granville Island along the famous Sea Wall.
If the weather is good why not get a little exercise and some fresh air while enjoying the stunning views of False Creek and Vancouver’s skyline before your visit.
3) Take the False Creek Ferries
The Museum of Vancouver is located a short walk from the Maritime Museum stop of the False Creek Ferries. This makes it an ideal method of transport from Downtown, Olympic Village or Granville Island.
Feel the wind in your hair as you enjoy the spectacular views of English Bay, False Creek and Vancouver’s skyline.
We promise, it’ll be much more enjoyable than a mundane bus or car ride.
4) Pay attention to your parking time
A recurring complaint of visitors to the Museum of Vancouver concerns Easypark, the company tasked with monitoring the facility’s parking lot.
Many people have reported receiving tickets for being as little as 10-15 minutes over their time allotment.
If you choose to drive to the museum, remain cognizant of this fact. Few things can ruin a nice afternoon as quickly as an expensive parking ticket.
5) Visit on the last Thursday of the month
If you visit on the last Thursday of the month between 5:00pm and 8:00pm then entrance is by donation only.
This means you can see all of the same great exhibits at a significantly discounted rate. Who wouldn’t like that?
Where is the Museum of Vancouver?
The MOV is located a short distance from downtown at 1100 Chestnut Street in Vanier Park on Vancouver’s Westside.
What time is the Museum of Vancouver open?
The MOV opens at 10:00 am 7 days a week. The museum remains open until 5pm from Sunday to Wednesday, 8:00 pm on Thursday and 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday.
How much does the Museum of Vancouver cost?
Entry to the MOV costs $20.50 for adults, $17.25 for students and seniors, $13.75 for youth (12-18), $9.75 for children (5-11) and $43 for families (2 adults+up to 3 youth).
Is the Museum of Vancouver worth the cost?
The MOV provides a unique insight into the history of Vancouver and the Indigenous groups who’ve called the area home for time immemorial.
As such, history buffs tend to find it amongst the most engaging attractions in Vancouver.
Well it looks like this article is history!
I hope I’ve answered any questions you may have had concerning your visit to the Museum of Vancouver. But if there’s anything you feel I’ve missed, don’t be afraid to hit me up in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.