Mimicking the post-and-beam structures favored by the Coast Salish, the Museum of Anthropology (6393 Northwest Marine Dr., 604/822-5087, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. in summer, Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. the rest of the year, adult $11, senior and child $9) is home to the world’s largest collection of arts and crafts of the Pacific Northwest native peoples. A ramp flanked with sculptures by renowned modern-day carvers leads to the Great Hall, a cavernous 18-meter-high (59-feet) room dominated by towering totem poles collected from along the coast and interspersed with other ancient works.
A museum highlight is the collection of works by Haida artist Bill Reid, which includes The Raven and the First Men. Carved from a four-ton chunk of yellow cedar, the surrounding seats are a popular spot to sit and simply stare. Other displays include intricate carvings, baskets, ceremonial masks, fabulous jewelry, and European ceramics.
The museum holds more than 200,000 artifacts, most of which are stored in uniquely accessible research collections. Instead of being stored in musty boxes out back and available only to anthropologists, the collections are stored in the main museum—in row upon row of glass-enclosed cabinets and in drawers that visitors are encouraged to open. Details of each piece are noted in binders.