Public Art
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Public Art

There's possibly no better way to take in some Vancouver culture and get to know the city in the process than by scouting out its public art.  Ranging from surprising to poetic to, occasionally, baffling, around 350 outdoor art works can be found in parks, transit shelters and even on random street corners. Follow these tips, and keep your eyes peeled.

First, the can't-miss pieces:  The vibrant First Nations totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park were carved as early as the 1880s. Interpretive panels in the park explain each totem's significance and history.  Another icon, the inukshuk at English Bay, became British Columbia's emblem during the 2010 Winter Olympics. An ancient Inuit symbol of friendship, this giant stone cairn, which resembles a person with outstretched arms, is simple yet striking.

Now, let's dig a little deeper.  Among the most talked about contemporary pieces is Myfanway McLeod's The Birds in the brand-new Olympic Village neighbourhood.  This pair of 18-foot sparrows symbolises the threat even beautiful animals have on biodiversity.  Meanwhile, just outside the Vancouver Library is the enigmatic The Words Don't Fit the Picture, a piece of billboard art by Vancouver's own Ron Terada.  

Finally, there's the granddaddy of all public art events, the Vancouver Biennale.  Every two years, a massive public exhibition is installed at locations across the city, turning Vancouver quite literally into an open-air museum.  This year's Biennale has brought to Vancouver perhaps its most popular piece of public art ever:  A-maze-ing Laughter by Chinese artist Yue Minjun.  Consisting of more than a dozen, 10-foot tall bronze sculptures of the artist himself - all in a different pose of hysterical laughter - the piece is both eerie, hilarious and an irresistible photo-op.
 
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2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival

  • September 04 - September 14
  • Granville Island
  • Contact: Debby Reis
  • Phone: 604-257-0350
  • Venue: Vancouver Fringe Festival
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Babes & Bathers: History of the Swimsuit

  • June 28 - November 02
  • Vancouver Maritime Museum
  • 1905 Ogden Ave
    Vancouver, BC V6J 1A3
  • Admission: $11.00 Adults, $8.50 Children/Seniors/Students, $30.00 Family
  • Contact: Visitor Services
  • Phone: 604-257-8300
  • Venue: Vancouver Maritime Museum
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Jürgen Partenheimer, The Archive – The Raven Diaries

  • September 11 - November 09
  • 555 Nelson Street
    Vancouver, BC V6B 6R5
  • Admission: Free
  • Contact: Jill Henderson
  • Phone: 604-681-2700
  • Venue: Contemporary Art Gallery
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Neon Marquee Art Exhibition

  • August 02 - August 31
  • Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
  • 578 Carrall Street
    Vancouver, BC V6B 5K2
  • Contact: Susan Ma
  • Phone: 6046623207ext205
  • Venue: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
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On Stage: Recent Acquisitions

  • June 28 - October 19
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Poplar Market "Handmade and Vintage Market"

  • November 22 - November 23
  • Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts North Poplar
  • 32041 Marshall Road
    Abbotsford, BC V2T 1A2
  • Admission: $2 Admission (Kids 10 and under free)
  • Phone: 604-859-3101
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SnapQuest MS

  • October 09 - October 09
  • Vancouver Art Gallery
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Admission: $25.00 (Registration)
  • Contact: Stephanie Mosher
  • Phone: 604-602-3208
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China's Emperors

  • October 18 - January 11
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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The Klahowya Village in Stanley Park

  • June 21 - September 01
  • Stanley Park Miniature Train
  • Stanley Park
    Vancouver, BC
  • Admission: Village Admission Price
  • Contact: Bree Crosby
  • Phone: 778-386-9713
  • Venue: Stanley Park Miniature Train
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Ts'msyen Transforming: Morgan Green

  • April 30 - September 14
  • Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
  • 639 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6C 2G3
  • Admission: included with admission
  • Venue: Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
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Vancouver Art Gallery presents Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything

  • May 31 - September 01
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Vancouver Art Gallery presents Douglas Coupland: Gumhead

  • May 31 - September 01
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Vancouver Art Gallery presents Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller

  • June 21 - September 21
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Vancouver Art Gallery presents Offsite: Babak Golkar

  • April 25 - September 28
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Vancouver Art Gallery presents Painted Past: A History of Canadian Painting from the Collection

  • June 28 - October 19
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Vancouver Art Gallery presentsIn Dialogue with Carr:Landon Mackenzie

  • September 20 - March 08
  • 750 Hornby Street
    Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
  • Contact: Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Phone: 604-662-4719
  • Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
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Vancouver Electronic Ensemble Performance

  • October 06 - October 06
  • 555 Nelson Street
    Vancouver, BC V6B 6R5
  • Admission: Free
  • Contact: Jill Henderson
  • Phone: 604-681-2700
  • Venue: Contemporary Art Gallery
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Vancouver Jump for Joy Photo Mural Opening

  • August 23 - August 23
  • lane beside
  • 161 East Pender Street
    Vancouver, BC V6A 2V2
  • Admission: Free
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