Nine Ways to Explore Art, Culture, and History in Greater Vancouver Right Now

Vancouver museums

With months yet until spring, and most of us weary with the bad weather, dark nights, and the ongoing restrictions, it’s easy to conjure to mind the old Shakespeare line: this is, indeed, the winter of our discontent.

But with a little planning, it could instead be the winter of art, culture, and history. Though programming looks different, and some ongoing events are on hiatus, the bulk of the region’s most-loved art galleries and museums still have their doors open. And perhaps, with limited capacity and pre-booked time slots in place at most destinations, now is in fact an ideal time to take in some of the local opportunities for learning and exploration. Here are a few options to check out in the region – if your favourite spot isn’t on this list, note that several sites are scheduled to open again in early February when (and if) the current health order in BC is lifted.

Vancouver Maritime Museum

Where: 1905 Ogden Ave, Vancouver
Learn More: Vancouver Maritime Museum

Have a kid with a love for pirate stories and seafaring adventures? The Vancouver Maritime Museum may be an ideal destination. The rotating exhibits are a chance to explore the maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic, including a model ship gallery and a full-sized reproduction of Captain Vancouver’s ship Discovery. Note that the Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre is currently being renovated, and Underwater World is the temporary area for children. The museum includes art, displays, models, and historical archives.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Where: 750 Hornby Street
Learn More: Vancouver Art Gallery

Considered one of North America’s leading art galleries thanks to its innovative exhibitions and broad offering of public programs, the gallery is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The gallery offers rotating exhibitions from the international circuit, as well as a focus on the accomplishment of First Nations artists and the art of the Asia-Pacific region. If you live in the Fraser Valley, consider a virtual visit, with their current Art At Home offering, with a variety of exhibits and events to access from home.

BC Sports Hall of Fame

Where: 777 Pacific Boulevard South, Gate A, Vancouver
Learn More: BC Sports Hall of Fame

Do you have a sports fan at home? Then the BC Sports Hall of Fame might be up your alley. Nearly 500 individuals and teams have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since it was founded in 1966, and the exhibits and programs showcase the accomplishments of this diverse group of athletes. From memorabilia to gear to historical records and more, the Hall is full of facts and fun about the unique history of sport in the province of BC.

Burnaby Art Gallery

Where: 6344 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Learn More: Burnaby Art Gallery

The Burnaby Art Gallery has been a thriving home for both contemporary and historical art exhibits and events for decades. Located in Ceperley House (along with various satellite projects throughout the community), the art gallery has been a supporter of emerging artists and a provider of educational programming for local schools. They also offer a variety of cultural programs, which are now operated through pre-registration due to capacity limits. Check out the Public Programs listings to find out what’s on offer in the coming weeks.

Contemporary Art Gallery

Where: 555 Nelson St., Vancouver
Learn More: Contemporary Art Gallery

With free access to all and a focus on education and knowledge, The Contemporary Art Gallery is a leading non-profit public art gallery. Primarily devoted to contemporary art from artists across Canada and around the world, the facility has always offered a variety of youth programs, workshops and more. In a unique offering for this winter, the gallery is a series of art-making videos by the artist in residence specifically for families, which will be released once a month between February and March, with free material kids available for pick up in limited quantities from the art gallery on the day of each release.

Surrey Art Gallery

Where: 13750 88th Avenue, Surrey
Web: Surrey Art Gallery

The Surrey Art Gallery – internationally recognized for the caliber of its programs – dubs itself a family-friendly gallery. With a variety of youth-focused programming adjusted to meet covid protocols, there’s plenty to see, do, and learn with the gallery this winter. Located at the edge of Bear Creek Park, a visit to the gallery offers a great chance to also explore the nearby trails and gardens. Check out their Children And Families page for details.

Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Where: 6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver
Learn More: Museum of Anthropology

A hidden jewel at the edge of the city, the Museum of Anthropology is on Marine Drive on the UBC campus. The facility is focused on the arts and cultures of the world, with a special emphasis on First Nations peoples and other cultural communities in BC. Located facing a forested area and the water beyond, the exterior environment of the gallery is as captivating as the inside. Filled with art, carvings, and much more, the museum is a wonderful place to explore the history – and contemporary culture – of BC.

New Westminster Museum at Anvil Centre

Where: 777 Columbia St., New Westminster
Learn More: New Westminster Museum and Archives

Officially, the New Westminster Museum and Archives are three separate locations in the city: Anvil Centre, Irving House, and the Samson V Museum (the latter is closed until spring.) With a rich trove of history including 36,000 objects along with 35,000 photographs and archival records from the city’s history, this is the place to be to get a rare glimpse into the not too distant past. The facility is currently doing pre-booking visit times.

Fraser River Discovery Centre

Where: 788 Quayside Drive, New Westminster
Learn More: Fraser River Discover Centre 

Get back to nature with a visit to one of the region’s most unique educational facilities. The Fraser River Discovery Centre is dedicated to the discovery and celebration of the Fraser River, sharing stories from both the past and present. The centre offers rotating exhibits and programs to help visitors understand the river’s central role in the life and history of BC.



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