The Vancouver we know is more culturally attuned to and integrated with nature than any city of a comparable size on earth. Despite this, our city has dramatically transformed the natural environment. Open now at The Museum of Vancouver with presenting sponsor Pacific Salmon Foundation, Rewilding Vancouver explores the city’s nature as it was, is, and could be.
The first major exhibition in Canada to explore our relationship with nature through the lens of historical ecology, Rewilding Vancouver brings this new way of exploring the past to the forefront using Vancouver as the subject. The exhibition is comprised of taxidermy specimens, 3D models, soundscapes, videos and photo interventions that challenge our perception of what is natural to Vancouver. Visitors will discover a changing-of-the-guard when it comes to the region’s wildlife, with ravens, wolves and elk fading as crows, coyotes and black-tailed deer settled in. Rewilding Vancouver also challenges us to envision new streetscapes that feature unearthed fish-bearing streams long hidden below city streets. A life-sized creation of the now extinct Steller’s Sea Cow is one of many highlights of this exhibition.
Rewilding Vancouver’s core exhibition team includes MOV curator Viviane Gosselin, designer Kevin McAllister and guest curator J.B. MacKinnon who is co-author of 100-Mile Diet and author of the recently released The Once and Future World, which served as inspiration for the exhibition.
“Almost everyone has experienced the loss of some treasured natural space — whether an entire forest or a simple vacant lot,” says MacKinnon. “This exhibition is a way to connect with that feeling, and also explore the unlimited possibilities of melding the urban and wild.”
In 2010, Vancouverites were mesmerized when a grey whale came for a swim in False Creek, and in 2013 we were equally awe-struck by a beaver investigating the Olympic Village as a new potential home. Rewilding Vancouver seeks to encourage people to discover what nature was like in Vancouver’s past, reconnect with nature as meaningful to their lives, and engage with efforts to make the city a wilder place.
“Rewilding Vancouver is an exhibition of remembering,” explains J.B. MacKinnon. “It allows the public to reconnect with a forgotten history in order to look at the present and the possible future with new eyes.”