Audain Foundation's $2.5 million grant supports UBC Museum of Anthropology

The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts has granted the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA) $2.5 million in support of its current major capital renewal project, A Partnership of Peoples. This gift, together with contributions from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, Department of Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces Program, and The Koerner Foundation, Toronto, is a significant step towards completing the project’s $55.5 million funding target. This major renovation helps transform MOA into one of the most advanced anthropological research facilities in the world.

Recognition of the Audain Foundation gift includes renaming the major temporary exhibit gallery as The Audain Gallery. “We are so fortunate to have the support of the Audain Foundation,” says Nancy Gallini, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Arts.  “Their commitment to the Arts Faculty at UBC and to MOA is truly cherished.”

At 5,800 sq. ft., the Audain Gallery will enable MOA to host and attract major international shows that to date have not been able to travel to Vancouver due to a lack of appropriate space. It will also allow MOA to continue to develop and produce its own major exhibits, but on a much larger scale. The Audain Gallery will open with its inaugural exhibit, Border Zones: New Art Across Culture, in January 2010.

“The Foundation recognizes the importance of the Museum of Anthropology to all visual art fans in British Columbia as well as the significant role it plays in the cultural representation of the First Nations people of the Pacific Northwest,” says Michael Audain, founder and chair of the Foundation. “The new gallery and spaces will further enhance and promote MOA’s unique position.”

“The promotion of First Nations and other indigenous collections at MOA reinforces the importance of keeping our cultural history alive,” says Prof. Stephen Toope, UBC President. “The generosity of Michael Audain and his foundation is greatly valued by the entire UBC community.”

A 44,000 sq. ft. new wing – the Centre for Cultural Research – has been built to increase the amount of space available in the existing building to showcase public exhibitions. The official ceremony celebrating the completion of the renewal project A Partnership of Peoples will take place on January 23, 2010.

The Audain Gallery is a vital component of the overall initiative to expand the museum’s physical spaces to increase public accessibility to its collections. Overall, more than 55,000 square feet of the original building is being renovated along with an upgrade to the building envelope and environmental systems.

“We are going through very big and exciting changes here at MOA, and I am extremely pleased by the Audain Foundation’s support,” states MOA Director, Anthony Shelton. “I am most grateful for their confidence in us as one of British Columbia’s premier institutions in the visual arts.”

The Audain Foundation has supported visual arts and cultural initiatives in British Columbia since 1997. A UBC alumnus and chair of B.C.’s Polygon Homes Ltd., Michael Audain has had a longstanding relationship with MOA and UBC. Including this contribution, he has given $5 million to UBC initiatives. Most recently, he gave $2 million in support of two new endowments for the UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory’s Masters in Critical and Curatorial Studies (CCST) Program.

With the Museum, the Audain Foundation has participated in several external First Nations projects and programs over the years and, in 2007, funded the exhibition catalogue for The Abstract Edge, a major exhibition of the work of Haida artist Robert Davidson.

Audain is a recipient of the Order of British Columbia, Chair of the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation and the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts.


Jennifer Webb
Museum of Anthropology
Communications Manager
Tel: 604.822.5950