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The Forbidden City

The Vancouver Art Gallery is hosting a new exhibit this fall that will feature five centuries of artifacts from Imperial China. The exhibit is titled “The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’ Emperors” and will run until January 11th at the main museum centre between Robson and Georgia Street.

At the height of it’s power, the Beijing palace was a place of mystery, where only a select group of staff, visitors and family members could ogle the treasures held within its walls. Now, a century after the Empire fell, the veil is being removed and the priceless contents are being displayed for the public.

The exhibition is organized by Beijing’s Palace Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The main curator is Dr. Chen Shen, the ROM’s Chair of East Asian Archaeology. Local historian and UBC professor, Timothy Brook, is coordinating the exhibit for Vancouver’s exhibit.

The collection is divided into nine unique sections:


  • Focuses on Aisin-Gioro lineage line, the greatest triple generation of emperors in Chinese history


  • Icons of power are displayed in this room with an emphasis on the emperor’s throne.


  • Armour and weaponry, the tools for consolidating power.


  • This section looks at the colours and dress of the emperors.


  • A look at the concubines who provided heirs to the throne.


  • Less emoticons and more calligraphy, this section deals with the private and public communications voiced by the rulers.


  • The far-from-ordinary daily objects used in the palace.


  • The emperor’s private collection of artifacts from China and around the world.

Farewell My Emperor

  • The final room features a discussion on the last emperor of the Forbidden City.

The exhibit will also host two historical lectures on October 28th at 7 p.m. and November 4th at 7 p.m. Both of these talks are on a Tuesday evening, where entrance is by donation.

And All That Jazz

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is back! The even kicked-off this weekend with free concerts held at the Georgia side of the Vancouver Art Gallery and around the back in Robson Square. The festival is set to run until July 1st.

Between now and then the festival will present some of the biggest names in the contemporary jazz field. This year’s big draws are Bobby McFerrin, saxophonist Maceo Parker, guitarist John Scofield and vocalist Cassandra Wilson. The performers will play at venues around the city.

This is the 29th time Vancouver has hosted the event. The first festival was in 1986, when organizers teamed up with the Expo 86 planners to bring a stellar line-up of talent to our city. On the first bill were performers such as trumpet legend Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis and this year’s returning star, Bobby McFerrin (don’t believe the hype – McFerrin is alive and ‘happy’).

One of the best features of the festival are the number of free concerts available to Vancouverites. Next weekend the free fun moves to Yaletown, with free shows at David Lam Park. Don’t miss the crazy mash-up Delhi 2 Dublin, a group that mixes Celtic music with Bhangra; let the highland flash mob commence!

The festival wraps up with a day of free jazz on Granville Island on July 1st, Canada Day.


Vancouver is blessed to have so many diverse ethnicities infused into its kaleidoscope culture. Celebrating specific regions of origin helps Vancouverites appreciate the richness of our multicultural society.

This weekend, the city is proud to host Taiwanfest. With a variety of events planned around the city, Taiwanfest hopes to offer a sampling of the entertainment, food and art from the island of Taiwan and Mainland China.

Free musical performances will be held all weekend around the Vancouver Art Gallery. One of the anticipated highlights of the Labour Day weekend will be the Musou Girls. Starting at 8pm on Saturday, the Musou girls will play a mix of modern and traditional Chinese instruments. The music is composed by the founder of the group, Mr. Xue Xuan Liu.

For a deeper look into the Taiwanese culture, checkout the four documentaries that will be showing around town. Simmons Mattress Gallery suggests “Faces of Taiwan.” This film is made up of five mini docs that focus on overcoming adversity.

On the edible menu will be Vancouver’s first street banquet. This event is being sponsored by the city as part of Vancouver’s 125th celebrations.

Taiwanese ceramics will be on display at the Roundhouse theatre from September 3rd to the 10th.

Enjoy the festivities!

For a more detailed schedule of events click here.

Summer Colour with a Surrealist Flare

The Vancouver Art Gallery is currently hosting “The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art.” The exhibition began in May and will run until September 25th. Simmons Mattress Gallery encourages you to inspire your own dreams by witnessing the amazing works on display at the VAG.

Surrealism was a reaction to Sigmund Freud’s investigation into the meaning of dreams. André Breton wrote the manifesto of the movement in 1924 and encouraged artists to create works that focused on the unconscious mind over perceived reality.

Part of the exhibition highlights the connection between Pacific Northwest First Nations art and the Surrealist movement. Apparently, many of the contributing artists looked to First Nations art for inspiration.

Kwakwaka’wakw Headdress from Alert Bay

Another theme of the exhibition is the influence of cinema. Still a relatively new medium in the early half of the 1900s, film was able to put images in motion and create a fluid canvas on which perspective could be manipulated. From avant-garde films to Charlie Chaplin, to Betty Boop, cinema created a fictional world that the surrealists saw as similar to their own artistic ambitions.

Artists on display include: Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Alberto Giacometti and many more.

Rain City Gallery

“Expect an increased chance of showers.”

With relatives or friends in town, you may be looking for activities around the city to fill in time between Olympic events. Unfortunately, the standard Seawall walk, Grouse Grind and trip to Kits Beach are out of the question due to the weather. As local resident and tour guide, it is now your responsibility to find engaging activities at indoor locations.

Galleries are always interesting and the Vancouver Art Gallery is one of the best art museums in the country. From the west coast Emily Carr collection, to the anatomical sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, the VAG is a must see.

The Museum of Anthropology is another great option. Located out at UBC, the museum currently has a special exhibition highlighting cultural boundaries. The exhibit is entitled Border Zones: New Art Across Cultures, and features a dialogue through art between twelve different artists. The exhibition is being presented by the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and is the inaugural expedition for the museum’s Audain Gallery.

If there are little ones in the crowd, you might consider the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. The centre has numerous interactive booths that will have the kids entertained for hours. The planetarium theatre, which is located above the centre, is currently screening five different programs throughout the day: “Our Vanishing Sky,” “Galileo,” “Harold’s Solar System,”  “Nightwatch,” and “Sky Stories.”

These three sites are excellent time fillers, but there is one remaining gallery that trumps them all, the Simmons Mattress Gallery. With two locations in the Lower Mainland and one in Victoria, Simmons Mattress Galleries are easy to find. Inside you will discover a showcase of the finest mattresses you will ever set your eyes on. This is an interactive exhibit, so feel free to stretch out on any of the beds. The gallery staff is especially trained to handle all your mattress questions from motion separation to power foundations.

So bundle up and bring your guests down to a Simmons Mattress Gallery for a cultural sleeping experience you can enjoy for years.

  • Simmons Mattress Gallery:
  • The Vancouver Art Gallery:
  • The Museum of Anthropology Cultural Exhibit:
  • H.R. MacMillan Space Centre:
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