Museum of Anthropology – Shadows, Strings, and Other Things



MOA Highlights Global Puppet Traditions in Premiere Exhibition Shadows, Strings and Other Things: The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets 

Grand theatrical experience features a broad array of puppets from 15 countries,
inviting visitors to explore the historical and dynamic qualities of puppetry

VANCOUVER, BC The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC presents an immersive exhibition animated with light, sound, and moving images — Shadows, Strings and Other Things: The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets, on display from May 16 to October 14, 2019. Curated by Dr. Nicola Levell, an associate professor of museum and visual anthropology at the University of British Columbia and sought-after independent curator, this enchanting exhibition details the role puppetry traditions have played from generation to generation in the transmission of cultural knowledge, stories, and values around the world. Visitors will have the opportunity to view more than 250 handcrafted puppets drawn from MOA’s collection — the largest in Western Canada — plus, new acquisitions from China, Brazil, Italy, Java, the UK, and France revealed to the public for the first time.

“Puppets are fabulous storytellers and precious knowledge holders. They are educators, entertainers, and satirical commentators, spanning different cultures and millennia,” says Levell. “Then as now, it is the human hand and imagination that bring puppets to life and capture our attention. Although puppetry traditions have been threatened by political currents and globalizing trends in new media and technology, passionate artists, puppet-makers, and performers continue to create and innovate, drawing on novel storylines, materials, and techniques. Shadows, Strings and Other Things explores the art of puppetry, revealing that no matter the origin, size, or medium, puppets are powerful conduits of creativity, activism, and social commentary.”

In Shadows, Strings and Other Things, visitors are welcomed into a grand theatrical experience where five theatre stages demonstrate each main puppet type: shadow, string (marionette), rod, hand (glove), and stop-motion animation. Stages are framed by opulent curtains and lavish, hand-illustrated backdrops, and depict scenes from various puppet plays. The exhibition also offers a glimpse behind the scenes, with displays of workshop settings and storage spaces. Other extraordinary puppets are presented in glass cases, while video booths play moving pictures of different puppetry traditions from around the world.

The exhibition features a broad array of puppets from 15 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and spotlights works by artists who frame their cultural traditions through the lens of contemporary culture. Highlights of these superb new works include: the Lu Family’s vibrant and colourful shadow puppets, such as Mu Guiying, a female warrior character whose striking headdress incorporates two long pheasant feathers — a style inspired by traditional Chinese opera costumes; award-winning Indigenous artist Amanda Strong’s haunting stop-motion animation (Four Faces of the Moon, 2016) with a puppet and prop installation of Skull Mountain, composed of 1,000 handcrafted buffalo skulls; wayang kulit shadow puppets from Java, Indonesia, which are used in spectacular storytelling feats  involving music, voice, and song that can last from midnight until dawn; and a newly commissioned hand puppet set of Punch and Judy, the beloved English slapstick tradition that dates back to 1662.

Many of the puppetry traditions on display are recognized and celebrated by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This exhibition spotlights how puppets dramatize the human experience in many parts of the world. Shadows, Strings and Other Things is a unique and magical opportunity for visitors of all ages to explore the historical and dynamic qualities of puppetry.

About MOA (
The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs and community connections. Founded in 1949 in the basement of the Main Library at UBC, its mission is to inspire understanding of and respect for world arts and cultures. Today, Canada’s largest teaching museum is located in a spectacular Arthur Erickson-designed building overlooking mountains and sea. MOA’s worldwide collections consist of more than 42,000 cultural objects and artworks created in Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe and the Americas — with a focus on the Pacific Northwest. MOA’s Multiversity Galleries provide public access to more than 9,000 of these objects and artworks. The Audain Gallery and the O’Brian Gallery, MOA’s temporary exhibition spaces, showcase travelling exhibitions, as well as those developed in-house.

LISTING INFORMATION MOA presents Shadows, Strings and Other Things: The Enchanting Theatre of Puppets
Dates: May 16 to October 14, 2019
Opening: May 16, 2019 at 7pm
Address: Museum of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC

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