Monday, August 28, 2006

Palm Springs: A Modernist Destination

The following post was written by West Vancouver Museum staff member Darren Penner, who recently travelled to Palm Springs, California.

When I decided to go to Palm Springs earlier this summer, I hadn't been thinking about architecture. When I got there, however, architecture quickly became a major focus. I've spent quite a bit of time in Palm Springs and the surrounding area, but this was my first trip down since I became interested in modernism. So in that sense, I was seeing many things for the first time - or at least looking at them in a different way.

Palm Springs is full of modernism. You see it in the architecture of office buildings, shopping centers, public buildings and private residences, in art, and interior design. Original modernist structures from the mid-20th century stand beside newer buildings which are being built in the modernist style. Interior design shops and rummage stores on Palm Canyon Drive and other places feature many, many pieces of modernist furniture and other household items. Much of it, of course, is pricey, but there are still a lot of bargains to be found.

Coming into the city from the west on Highway 111, the Palm Springs Visitors Center is one of the first buildings you'll see. Located at 2901 North Palm Canyon Drive, it was originally a gas station designed by Albert Frey. The roof is an especially striking feature, as you can see in the photos below. The building, built in 1965, eventually became an art gallery before being converted into the Visitors Center.

I should add that a stop at the Visitors Center is pretty much mandatory for anyone visiting Palm Springs to look at architecture, and not only because of the structure itself. Inside you'll find a lot of great books on Desert Modernism, which is also called Palm Springs Modernism. They are loaded with great pictures of modernist structures in Palm Springs and other cities throughout Southern California. I bought a book called Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis (Danish, Andrew, and Alan Hess. Chronicle Books, 2001), which I highly recommend. I was also able to buy a driving tour map, which helped me find many of the more famous structures, such as the Neutra designed Kaufman Residence.

The Palm Springs Visitors Center (Albert Frey)

The Kaufman Residence (Richard Neutra)

Other interesting structures in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is an excellent place to go if you're into modernism. One word of warning though: It's hot in the summer, and I mean hot. Personally, I don't mind the heat, but with summertime temperatures that routinely get up past 44 degrees Celcius (110 degrees Fahrenheit), it would be too hot for a lot of people. It starts to cool down in September and in winter the daily temperatures are a comfortable low to mid 20s Celcius (70s on the Fahrenheit scale).

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Last Chance for Tea & Tour!

Don't miss your last chance to participate in our Summer Tea & Tour Program coming up this Wednesday, August 30th. Join us for a guided tour of our current exhibit, Living on the Edge: West Vancouver Modernist Homes 1940-1970, followed by tea and refreshments served in the museum garden.

This is a great opportunity to learn about a prominant form of architecture in West Vancouver and to socialize with your neighbours while learning about the history of the Gertrude Lawson house, where the museum is located. You can sign up for this event using telereg or webreg (code 310871) by clicking here.

Want to know more? Click here!

Japanese Tea Ceremonies Conclude

Our Japanese Tea Ceremony program concluded on Wednesday, as Sachi Rummel hosted the last ceremony of the summer in the museum garden.

We'd like to thank Sachi, a volunteer here at the West Vancouver Museum, for all her hard work. Thanks also to the volunteers and participants - we couldn't have done it without you!

Sachi serves a cup of macha tea to museum staff member Isaac Vanderhorst

Sachi conducting a tea ceremony during the Wearing Tradition: Kimono event on July 15

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cultural Capitals of Canada

If you live in West Vancouver, you probably know that our city has been chosen as a 2006 Cultural Capital by the Cultural Capitals of Canada program.

Celebration and Collaboration

As a result of this distinction West Vancouver is commissioning a sculpture, which will highlight and promote Squamish Nation heritage. The Sculpture Commission, a componant of the Squamish Sculpture Symposium, made a call for submissions from local artists and has now narrowed their decision to three finalists.

The artists have constructed scale models of their proposals, and these models have been on display at various places in West Vancouver over the past few weeks. Beginning today, they are on display at the West Vancouver Museum, where they will remain until Wednesday when the selection committee makes its final decision.

We've posted pictures of the models, but don't miss this opportunity to check out the finalists here at the West Vancouver Museum!

The Sculpture Comission will make its final decision on Wednesday, and there is opportunity for the public to comment on which models they like and why. Don't delay - come to the West Vancouver Museum today and have a look!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Call For Volunteers!

Whether you love to talk to people or work independently, have a thirst for knowledge or want to explore West Vancouver history, there's a wonderful and wide range of activities for vounteers here at the West Vancouver Museum!

Volunteers form a critical component of the Museum. From covering shifts in the gallery/gift shop to assisting with openings and special events or working with school children and other members of the community in public education programs, volunteers generally give 2-3 hours per week and can participate in a variety of special activities in addition to their chosen work areas. Training is provided and all volunteers receive invitations to exhibit openings and special events.

Currently, there are openings in the following volunteer teams:

Gallery Guides:

Ongoing shifts: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from noon until 4:30pm. Gallery guides are the front line people working in the gallery/gift shop area. If you enjoy learning about the history of West Vancouver, talking with visitors, giving tours and selling items from the gift ship, this is a great opportunity to promote West Vancouver to our citizens and visitors.

Public Programs Assistant:

Public programs assistants help with our educational programs. These programs are great fun! If you enjoy working with the public, particularly children and seniors, and like arts and crafts, this may be the position for you. This is not a weekly commitment, as we do not run the programs every week, but in combination with being a gallery guide, it can add variety to your volunteer experience.

Reception/Special Events:

Reception/special events volunteers help with exhibit openings and special programs. These events are a lot of fun, and usually take on a differnet theme or focus every time. This is not a weekly commitment, but rather as needed throughout the year, usually something every one or two months.


Ongoing shifts. Collections involves all museum objects on display and in storage. Volunteers may be assigned a special project or may help with cataloguing and data entry. Competence with computers and an interest in cataloguing are definite assets!

Volunteer Benefits

The West Vancouver Museum relies on the assistance of enthusiastic and committed volunteers. We want you to know how much your time here means to us, so we have developed a volunteer recognition package! It includes:

  • Acknoledgement of your contribution to the community
  • 10% off items in the gift shop
  • Volunteer appreciation and recognition events
  • Invitations to the many public programs that we offer throughout the year
  • Reference letters, which are provided upon request after at least 3 months of service
Terms of the Volunteer Agreement:

  • Volunteers must commit to a minimum of 2 hours of service per week for a minimum of 3 months
  • Volunteers are required to attend an orientation session
  • Volunteers should attend an exhibit orientation tour
  • Volunteers are expected to record their volunteer hours in the gallery guide manual
  • Volunteers are expected to familiarize themselves with the museum, archives, and history of the Gertrude Lawson House, and other local history
  • As representatives of the West Vancouver Museum, volunteers are expected to demonstrate professional conduct and courtesy while on duty
Why Volunteer?

The answer is, quite simply, a feeling of satisfaction and the knowledge that you are making a contribution to your community. As a volunteer you will be helping out with the preservation and promotion of community history, and you will have the opportunity to make new contacts and community connections. Why wait? Click here to print out a volunteer application form and bring it in to Kiriko at the museum today!

Photos taken from two volunteer events: The VanDusen Gardens trip in April, 2006, and the volunteer appreciation lunch in August, 2006.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Scottish Fiddler Entertains Crowd at the West Vancouver Museum!

On Wednesday, August 2nd, Angus MacKinnon entertained a sellout crowd in the museum garden with the sounds of traditional Scottish fiddle music. There was a lot of excitement about this event, and the audience could be heard humming, singing, and even dancing to the music.

Mr. MacKinnon's performance was part of our Tea & Tour program running throughout the summer here at the museum. Museum staff member Darren Penner started the event with a tour of the current museum exhibit, Living on the Edge: West Vancouver Modernist Homes 1940-1970. After the tour participants moved to the museum garden to enjoy the sounds of the Scottish fiddle, as well as refreshments supplied by Coco Loco. The sticky buns they supplied were so good that we could barely keep up with demand!

Scroll down for some pictures from the event!

We at the West Vancouver Museum would like to extend our deepest thanks to Mr. MacKinnon for donating his time to play for us. The audience loved it and the event was a great success! Thanks also to Coco Loco for supplying the refreshments, and the volunteers and staff who helped out with setup, service, and take down - we couldn't have done it without you!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Coco Loco!

Coco Loco has sponsored various events here at the museum this summer, including the Tea & Tour program, the Scottish Fiddler event with Angus MacKinnon, and the volunteer appreciation lunch.

Their donations of baked goods, salad, coffee, and other supplies have greatly enhanced our public programs this summer. Their food is always delicious and we are so grateful for their generosity!

Coco Loco is located at 1735 Marine Drive. In addition to operating a cafe at that location, they provide catering for a variety of events, including weddings, birthdays, luncheons, dinner parties, cocktail parties, and memorials.

We have been very lucky to have their support this summer and would encourage our readers to support them in return!

Thanks again, Coco Loco!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Programs for Scouts and Guides

We offer several programs for scouts and guides that work directly toward achievements and badges. During the programs, your group will actively participate in learning and hands-on activities that will engage and educate them about life at the last century, and relating it to the 21st century way of life.

The West Vancouver Museum welcomes Scout and Guide groups to experience history in a turn of a century way!

Suggested Programs

*Our Flags, Our Symbols.
*Sea Walk Tour.
*Early Pioneer Life.

Mon.-Thurs. (nights)
Sat. (days)

Fee $35.00

1 or 1.5 Hours

For more information or to make a booking please contact Isaac Vanderhorst.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Community Programs

The Museum offers a variety of community history presentations.

The West Vancouver Museum offers Historical presentations on our area’s history to all interested groups and organizations. The Visits include distribution of museum artefacts, historical photographs through the use of slides, video, or power-point, discussions, activities, and of course the expertise of Museum staff. Typically the presentations visits run 60 minutes.

Days and Evenings

For more information or to make a booking please contact Isaac Vanderhorst.

*Photo courtesty John R. Stuart

Thursday, August 10, 2006

School Programs

*Museum programs offered in your classroom.

The West Vancouver Museum offers a variety of educational programs on art, history and culture for elementary and secondary school students. Customized special topic education programs are available throughout the year.

Down to the Sea
Grade 6-12

Explore our unique coastline with your students by examining the drawings of B.C. Binning and the distinct way he documented West Vancouver and British Columbia during the 1940/s. By studying his art, students gain a sense of nature and history and learn to see their surroundings in a new light.

A Fine Place to Live – The Early Days of West Vancouver
Grade 2 - 3

Early West Vancouver resident John Lawson will visit your class and personally guide your students through an exciting hands-on program of what life was like in our Community before electricity and the automobile.

Building a Modern Community
Grade: 4 -10

Introduce your class to our unique West Coast architecture and neighbourhoods. Learn about the “Post and Beam” and how “living on the edge” influenced the development of a new style. Students explore the many significant Canadian architects who contributed to the development of our modern community. Programs include hands-on activities using photographs, building plans, vintage magazines, real-estate and construction ads.

Times: 9:00am, 10:45am, and 1:00pm, Monday – Friday

Each program lasts 60 to 75 minutes, depending on the group.

Cost: $ 40

Program Packages include all necessary support materials and work sheets. Please ask for a customized program to fit your current art and social studies instructions if you would like to explore a topic other than those listed. Book your class today! Please contact Isaac Vanderhorst at 604-925-7297 or


Each traveling education kit contains hands-on objects, relevant lesson text and a variety of fun unique activities! These portable kits are designed for teachers to use in the classroom.

Enduring Traditions – Squamish Weaving
Grade: 4-5

The heritage of the Squamish Nation is explored through art and culture lessons developed to instill critical thinking skills in social studies, art and science.

Cost: $ 75.0

Education Kits are available for two-week loan periods. Museum staff will deliver and pick-up the kits at your school.

Please contact Isaac Vanderhorst with any questions or to make a booking.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What's Happening at the West Vancouver Museum

We've got lots of exciting events happening here at the museum in the next few months. Here are the highlights!

Living on the Edge: West Vancouver Modernist Homes 1940-1970: Our current exhibit explores the development of west coast modernism as a distinct style of architecture in West Vancouver, and explores the relationship between architecture and design. The exhibit has been very well received, and we are pleased to announce that it has been extended to September 17th! For more information on this must-see look at one of Canada's most prominant architectural styles, click here.

Tea & Tour (August 16 and 30): Join us for a tour of our current exhibit, Living on the Edge, West Vancouver Modernist Homes 1940-1970, followed by tea and refreshments in the museum garden. Click here for more information on the program and registration.

Japanese Tea Ceremonies (August 9 and 23): Participate in an authentic Japanese Tea Ceremony, as Sachi Rummel hosts the event in the museum garden. Sachi, an experienced tea ceremony practitioner, studied under the master of the Enshuryu school in Japan. Not to be missed! Click here for more information.

Get ready for some Halloween fun at the museum this fall as we offer our haunted Halloween exhibit between October 13th and 31st. Find out where Halloween comes from and get a healthy dose of the pop culture icons and traditions that have made it what it is today. Opening day is Friday the 13th, and the exhibit is suitable for adults and children of all ages - Drop by if you dare!

And speaking of Halloween... we're holding our first ever film night on October 13th, and the theme is Halloween! We'll be serving red wine, so the event is adults only - be prepared to scream! Register using telereg/webreg code 355267. See you there!

Fabulous 50s at the West Vancouver Museum. Were the 50s really fab? Find out on heritage weekend (September 15th to 17th). We'll have an antique car show, a home tour, and lots more 50s-themed fun-filled events. Check back for more information coming soon!