Visitors flying into Vancouver are often surprised to discover a virtual museum of native art at the airport: totem poles, elaborate wooden masks and intricate wood and metal carvings, all tucked amid the check-in counters, customs booths and departure lounges. This is no accident: Vancouver is serious about its art.
The postcard perfect city on the Pacific's edge has a thriving and surprisingly diverse visual culture. First Nations artwork, both traditional and contemporary, is just the start. A succession of pioneering artists has enriched the cultural scene over the years, from legendary Emily Carr and her expressionist canvases of British Columbia wilderness to architect Arthur Erickson, who defined an entire style of modernist building.
Today, visitors can take in Vancouver's art at Western Canada's largest public art gallery, at edgy contemporary institutions or even inside the studios of working artists. And museum lovers will find spaces dedicated to First Nations history and world cultures, Vancouver's rough-and-ready frontier days and modern life - not to mention plenty of kid-favourites, including hands-on Science World and the Vancouver Aquarium.