Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology Launches Global Puppetry Exhibition

String puppets. By unknown makers (Sinhalese). MOA Collection: Eh149, Eh147, Eh164, Eh144, Eh142. Photo by Alina Ilyasova, courtesy of Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

Although puppets seem like simple creations, they have a rich and complex history across a variety of cultural traditions.

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC is presenting a new exhibition that offers a fascinating and comprehensive look at the world of puppetry, including the art and its theatrical experience.

From May 16 to October 14, 2019, Shadows, Strings and Other Things: The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets will be at the MOA (6393 NW Marine Drive).

The exhibition will feature 250 handcrafted puppets that have been carefully curated from the museum’s collection, as well as acquired from numerous countries, including France, China, and Brazil.

Hand puppets. By unknown maker (Nahua or Totonac). MOA Collection: 3341/1-9. Photo by Alina Ilyasova, courtesy of Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

Curator Dr. Nicola Levell, Associate Professor of Museum and Visual Anthropology at UBC, has put together an exhibition that considers the story-telling, creativity, and cultural significance that these puppets materialize. While puppets are inanimate objects, they have been created by human imagination and hands, and are brought to life in performance. In this virtual era of Twitter and Instagram, puppets are a reminder of an earlier tradition of using representations to connect with other people, pass on knowledge, and to convey to them narratives and sometimes political/social commentary.

String puppet. By unknown maker (Burmese). MOA Collection: 3307/1. Photo by Alina Ilyasova, courtesy of Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

The theatricality of the puppets is made visible in the exhibition through five stages that each showcases a type of puppet, whether it be hand (glove) or string (marionette). The multimedia and sensory Shadows will include workshop settings and video booths playing footage of puppetry in different areas of the world.

String puppets. By Jorge Cerqueira (Portuguese). MOA Collection: 3105/1-2. Photo by Alina Ilyasova, courtesy of Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

These puppets are incredibly striking and culturally significant, many of them designated by UNESCO as being part of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Highlights include a newly commissioned set of Punch and Judy; Indigenous artist Amanda Strong’s stop motion animation; shadow puppets from Indonesia; and the Lu Family’s shadow puppets.

Shadow puppets. By Lu Family (Chinese). MOA Collection: 3338/8-12. Photo by Alina Ilyasova, courtesy of Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

Visitors will leave the exhibition with a greater appreciation for the vibrancy of puppetry and the diversity of the art, as well as the common human desire to entertain and to tell stories in lively and inventive ways.

Further information can be found on-line.

Tagged: , ,

Comments are closed for this post

One Response to Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology Launches Global Puppetry Exhibition

  1. Remarks