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New exhibits open at Museum of Surrey

‘Untangling Textiles’ and ‘Body Language’ open in May
A young museum-goer takes part in a textile demonstration at the Museum of Surrey. Starting May 10, the Textile Studio will take over the museum’s feature gallery offering onsite demos and the opportunity to view textile samples and tools. (Photo Submitted: Neil Mouellic/Museum of Surrey).

Two new exhibitions are being featured at the Museum of Surrey.

“Untangling Textiles” opens May 10 and “Body Language” opens May 14.

Untangling Textiles, showing in the museum’s feature gallery, focuses on textiles by looking at fibres, tools, techniques, and finished textiles.

According to, museum-goers can “discover an array of fibres from the more common ones like cotton, wool and silk, to the more unusual ones like soya by-products, milk protein, and pineapple leaves” at the exhibit. “We even have samples of yarn infused with mint and pearls.”

There will be an authentic Indian Charka on display. The Charka is the same tool “once used by Ghandi for spinning raw cotton into yarn.” There will also be a display showing the life cycle of the silkworm, with real silk cocoons.

The museum will also have a Salish loom for visitors to see. The loom was made by Shain Jackson just for this new exhibit.

Untangling Textiles will also feature an eco-friendly display to show people how to reuse old textiles. Textiles are responsible for the second largest amount of pollution in the world. The eco-friendly display looks at ways people can “upcycle,” or reuse, old textiles in an effort to avoid throwing them into a landfill.

Body Language, showing in the Indigenous Hall, will give museum-goers a look into Indigenous tattooing.

Body Language will give visitors an intimate view at historic and contemporary Northwest Coast cultural tattooing and piercing. The exhibition explores designs on skin and their relationship to traditional clothing, rock art, jewelry, basketry, and weaving.

“For millennia, Indigenous tattooing and piercing were central to ceremony and recognition of special life events, potlatches, and social rank within Northwest Indigenous communities,” says a museum webpage on “After these ceremonies were banned, personal crests were transferred to clothing and jewellery. Body Language explores designs on skin and their relationship to traditional clothing, rock art, jewellery, basketry, and weaving.”

The museum promises the exhibit will “transcend mere decoration” while giving visitors a window into how tattoos offer healing, protection, and “a profound sense of cultural knowledge” along with a sense of place.

The exhibition will also feature contemporary artists who are leaders in reclaiming traditional techniques of their respective First Nations with the goal of “building awareness of the significance and protocols” regarding the cultural practice of tattooing and piercing.

According to the museum’s webpage, “The revival of Northwest Indigenous tattooing traditions affirms Indigenous identity, sends messages of empowerment, and marries history with our contemporary existence. Our tattoos are a permanent reminder that we belong to something bigger than ourselves.”

Untangling Textiles runs from May 10 to July 31. Body Language runs from May 14 to September 4.

For more information on the exhibits, visit the Museum of Surrey’s webpage on, call 605-592-6956, go to their Facebook page @MuseumofSurrey, or find them on Instagram @MuseumofSurrey.

Admission to the Museum of Surrey is free. The Museum of Surrey is located at 17710 56A Avenue in Cloverdale.

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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