For two months this autumn, part of the UBC Museum of Anthropology will be turned into an Aladdin’s cave, full of silver treasures from Peru. Luminescence: The Silver of Peru tells the story of over 2,500 years of the precious metal and the peoples who worked with it, in a special exhibition created specially for the Museum of Anthropology. If you’re wondering what to do in Vancouver to see some seriously sparkly things, this is it.
What to do in Vancouver: See Some Silver
“There have been several major exhibitions on Peruvian gold, but none, yet, on silver,” explains Dr Anthony Shelton, Museum Director and curator of Luminescence, “and many of these pieces have never left Peru.”
“It will be a dark gallery, with each of the objects picked out by spotlight,” says Shelton. “There will be several giant silver masks hanging from the ceiling, depicting the supernatural being Peruvians believed lived in the silver mines.”
Glimpse Into the Incan World
Incan objects provide a glimpse into their glittering world with silver crowns, tunics made completely out of silver and silver burial masks. Pieces from the colonial period include a recreation of a 18th century church altar made completely out of silver, and paintings by indigenous people with silver paint.
Finally, the exhibition also explores contemporary Peruvian silver. “The indigenous people believe silver belongs to a supernatural being in the mines, and up until about the 1970s, they would leave offerings outside the silver mines to protect them, and show them where the best silver veins were. If they did not leave an offering, this being would send snakes in the night to move the silver to another mountain,” explains Shelton.
Safe From Little Fingers
On a practical note, the precious objects will be in cases, away from the reach of inquisitive little fingers. The shining crowns, masks and jewellery is sure to be a hit with any little one in love with fairy tales. “We hope children will see these pieces shining in the spotlights, and ask, ‘What’s that? What’s that?’” says Shelton. This is what to do in Vancouver with your child who loves shiny things.
Luminescence: The Silver of Peru is on at the UBC Museum of Anthropology from 5 October – 16 December, 2012.