Our most remarkable permanent exhibit is a section of an excavation trench from the 1977 field school at Namu on the BC central coast. The site of Namu contains an archaeological record that spans nearly 10,000 years. The profile section that is on display in the museum represents about 5,000 years of cultural and natural accumulations. Evidence of nearly continuous use at the site has been found and separated into 6 general periods of use. The profile on display shows Periods 2 (6000 BP - 5000 BP) through 5 (3500 BP - 2000 BP). Can you pick out the different periods in the layers?

Though the profile on display was removed in 1977, excavations continued in 1978 and 1994; many of the artifacts from these excavations appear in more than just the Namu exhibit itself.


The Pacific Northwest Coast extends from the Northern California coast to the Alaskan Panhandle. The  indigenous First nations living here share many cultural traditions. Although life has changed on the Pacific Northwest Coast, Indigenous peoples have maintained an expanded their artistic traditions in the modern period. The objects in this exhibit showcase their rich history and enduring vitality.


One can hardly think of the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology without thinking of the Frog Constellation, carved by Haida artist James Hart, a chief from Haida Gwaii. James is one of the most accomplished artists currently working in the Northwest Coast style. He bridges classical and contemporary forms, and his work is valued internationally for its beauty, integrity and innovation. This wonderful carving welcomes visitors to the museum.

Inside the museum gallery are monumental sculptures illustrating the varied artistic traditions of the First Nations of the BC Coast.  Can you see the differences between these styles?  Look for use of colour. Does the artist add arms or other attachments or are they carved within the body of the tree?  Compare the proportions of the heads and bodies. Can you guess what being is represented in each carving? 

Since our opening at this location in 1979, the poles from the northern, central and south coast of British Columbia have been a constant presence. They have been exhibited here through the generosity of the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.  Over the next few years they are being returned to the Royal British Columbia Museum.


When you walk into the museum, be sure to look up to find the stunning photographs of the Jump-Across-Creek rock art taken in 1972 by Philip Hobler. The photographs are complimented by the large carved stones on display near the front door. These were collected between 1929 and 1960 from the Lillooet area, from the mouth of Eleven Mile Creek. The designs were pecked or ground into the rock, either by a piece of sharp stone, by chiseling the rock using a hammerstone to deliver blows to a stone chisel, or by abrading the suface of the rock with a piece of harder stone. Motifs depicted on this rock include a number of faces, anthropomorphic figures and numerous lines and depressions. See how many you can find.