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“Must see!”

U'mista Cultural Centre
Ranked #1 of 8 things to do in Alert Bay
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: U'mista Cultural Centre is one of the longest-operating and most successful First Nations cultural facilities in BC, founded in 1980 as a ground breaking project to house potlatch artifacts which had been seized by government during an earlier period of cultural repression. The return of the potlatch artifacts not only provided U'mista's name ('the return of something important'), and sparked a general trend toward repatriation of First Nations and cultural artifacts, it caused the creation of a physical facility and human resources infrastructure which have been successfully operated for over two decades.U'mista now operates a modern museum and cultural education facility in Alert Bay. Their operations include the museum, an extensive art gallery and gift shop, group tours, and presentations by dance troupes. The facility hosts international scholars, and supports researchers in a range of disciplines.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Vancouver, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Must see!”
Reviewed August 25, 2013

It is a wonderful museum. Unfortunately when we visited they had just had a fire and the Potlatch exhibit was not on display (the main attraction). It is really sad as a number of articles are damaged. We enjoyed the exhibits they had and the community touch. There was a presentation by a cedar weaver that was incredible. We sat with her and a museum staff member and had the most wonderful conversation. St. Michel's residential school sits beside the museum as a grim reminder of the past. It really was a powerful experience.

Visited August 2013
Thank Shona E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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134 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Beautiful site... terrible news.”
Reviewed August 12, 2013

Despite a fire that damaged/destroyed the longhouse and some of the collection, the museum is open still and has some wonderful exhibits ongoing... and "Hello again, mate" to carver Sean Whonnock, who was out front carving a panel and happy to talk with us about his work and his experiences.

Visited August 2013
Thank MichaelMVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Central Valley, California
Level 5 Contributor
43 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Stopped by twice”
Reviewed August 7, 2013

The Cultural Center recently experienced an arson fire. Apparently this has been happening to several First Nations Centers/landmarks on Vancouver Island and remote neighboring islands/ places.
They are in the process of drying our the building, cleaning up and trying to restore everything. Hundreds of pieces are off display due to damage.
At this time, they are not charging admission but just asking for donations to help with the repair efforts.
We believe in giving back to communities and they can use some help.

Visited August 2013
Thank ladyhawkcs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Davis, California
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“First Nation musuem at Alert Bay”
Reviewed August 5, 2013

Well designed, thoughtful, sensitive portrayal of the First Nation peoples of northern British Columbia. We enjoyed our visit which including art, totem poles, sculpture and film. Gift shop offered art work such as masks and carved items as well as more traditional "chotchkes". We also hiked through the adjacent forest and saw eagles' nests and some pre-carved cedar poles in a clearing. Wonderful experience.

Visited July 2013
Thank Senior650
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parksville, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
128 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“A very worthwhile place to visit”
Reviewed June 20, 2013

I had no idea what a "Potlatch" really is or what happens at one, or even how long one lasts. Well the guides at this museum really know their stuff, and what's more are excited to pass along their extensive knowledge. This whole area is very interesting, and I can say that I would have liked to have spent a little more time here, a couple of hours just isn't enough.

Visited June 2013
Thank JimS456
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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