Welcome to the Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology



 As part of Simon Fraser University's 50th Anniversary celebrations, the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is proud to announce a major renewal in our gallery. Throughout the Fall 2015 semester, students from Arch 348 - Archaeological Conservation, along with our research associates have put together a number of new exhibits.


This exhibit was anonymously gifted to the MAE in 2011. Haida argillite carving is a complex art form rich in symbolism, family ties, and cultural history. With eighty-one items from a variety of Haida artists, this collection serves as a well-deserved spotlight on the beauty and intricacies of Haida argillite carvings. If you are interested, make sure to check out this virtual exhibit.


Glass can be a misunderstood aspect of historical archaeology. Often noted as junk (which, to be fair, at time of disposal it usually was), archaeologists can still utilize all types of glass such as bottle, jewelry, window, etc., to tell us more about the medicine, beverages, food, and glass-making methods of the past. If you are interested, make sure to stop by and take a peek at this exhibit.

New Exhibit: Bringing the Tse'K'wa Collection Home

The Tse’K’wa Collection Exhibit is a visual display of the engagement of SFU students with Mr. Donaldson's collection, as they organized the artifacts from buckets and bins to reposit-ready and highlights it’s eventual repatriation to the Treaty 8 Tribal Association. After its return to the Peace River, the collection will be part of the first collection of the new Tse'K'wa Interpretive Centre at Charlie Lake.

New Exhibit: Conservation on a Miniature Scale

Each of the 17 Bolivian dolls on exhibit were carefully examined and documented in order to determine what needed to be done to consolidate, and conserve these dolls. Can you see the fine netting Debbie placed over the decaying silk? Can you tell the difference between the reconstructed faces and hair and the originals? The results of many hours, focus and careful concentration in the best lighting possible, are now on display.;

New Exhibit: Go Geocaching! 

Thanks to Department of Archaeology graduate student, Kelly Brown, the MAE has a new and exciting geocaching exhibit to participate in! Geocaching is an activity where, using the official Geocaching app on your phone, you follow GPS coordinates to locations where people have hidden trinkets, notes, and more. Our geocache exhibit is live on the app. 

New Exhibit: Homo naledi

Homo naledi, the recently discovered new species of ancient hominin found in South Africa, is one of the most intriguing finds of last year. Dr. Marina Elliot, an SFU alumna who participated in the suspenseful cave excavation, gave these 3D models to the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. 3D models allow for an interactive element in museums, giving people the chance to touch and compare these ancient human bones to theirs. Feel free to ask a museum employee for a closer look at these models! This exhibit was possibly the first to put H. naledi on display. 

New Exhibit: Canoes, Lifeways, Waterways

This exhibit displays the following designs: the dugout canoe, the northern canoe, the west coast canoe, the baidarka, the birch bark canoe, and the racing canoe. Models of canoes can offer a unique insight into the history and construction of canoes across the Pacific Northwest.  At times, model canoes are the only record of specific watercraft and the methods used in their construction.

New Exhibit: Wayang Kulit, Mastering the Shadows

The SFU MAE has a large collection of Indonesian shadow puppets (wayang kulit), a portion of which are newly on exhibit. These shadow puppets are intricately crafted and have detailed design. The shadow puppets are characters from Ramayan, the story of the battle between good and evil. Made from paper, the real magic of these puppets are the shadows they cast. They are an important and long-standing element of Indonesian culture and tradition. 

New Exhibit: Plains Regalia

For SFU's 50th anniversary in 2015, Tiinesha Begaye and Hilary Pennock created an exhibit of this magnificent Plains beaded costume. Hilary and Tiinesha cleaned the costume, repaired the beading, modified a mannequin to conservation standards, mounted the costume on the mannequin and wrote the interpretive text for the large display. A big project, well done!

New Exhibit: Rocks to Rockets

While humans were evolving biologically, we were also developing various technologies, like fire and clothing, that improved our ability to adapt to our environment. Among these technologies were ones that allowed us to propel heavy or sharp projectiles to hunt animals for food.

New Exhibit: Mammoths of North America

Teeth, tusks, bones—how do scientists reconstruct the lives and appearance of mammoths from the skeletons left behind in the ground? 'Mammoths of North America' displays real mammoth fossils from the Museum’s collection and explains how each piece of evidence recovered contributes to our knowledge of the individual and species as a whole.

Notice: Our virtual exhibits "A Journey into Time Immemorial: Virtual Museum of Canada," "Hola Canada: The Latin American Collections," and "Investigating Forensics: Virtual Museum of Canada" are no longer available. 

Hours of Operation

The Museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm.

The Museum will be closed February 20-24 for Reading Week.

Health and Safety Protocols

While we are not checking patrons' vaccination status at this time, please wear a mask when visiting the Museum and maintain appropriate social distancing when in the gallery.


NE Corner of the AQ
Saywell Atrium, off Saywell Hall
8888 University Dr.
Burnaby, BC  V5A 1S6

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What's New?

  • Haida Argillite Carving

    This exhibit was anonymously gifted to the MAE in 2011. Haida argillite carving is a complex art form rich in symbolism, family ties, and cultural history. With eighty-one items from a variety of Haida artists, this collection serves as a well-deserved spotlight on the beauty and intricacies of Haida argillite carvings. If you are interested, make sure to check out this virtual exhibit. read more

  • Naamboi and Photogrammetry

    The Naamboi "jars,” were donated to the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology by Dr. Richard Shutler Jr. in 1985. He excavated in the South Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s, including the island of Malekula, in the Vanuatu archipelago, northeast of Australia. These jars came from an abandoned mountain village near the west coast of Malekula. 

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  • Beyond the Mask


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  • Waters Rising


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