Gray is beautiful
A typical Vancouver February includes only 87 hours of sunlight, a measly three hours a day. There are places, however, that benefit greatly from the soft light of winter. At the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology ― a stunning building designed by world-renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson ― the experience of walking among the native people's masks and artifacts is made even more profound by the presence of nature in the sound of rain on the skylights, the shifting light that pours through huge windows, and the spectacular view of Howe Sound at the end of the darkened Anniversary Gallery.
Exhibits include objects from the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, with a strong emphasis on the culture of the First Nations. The Anniversary Gallery houses unique art in the exhibition Gathering Strength: New Generations in Northwest Coast Art.
"You could take away all of the objects and it's still a very interesting walk," says museum projects manager David Cunningham. "If a cloud goes over, you notice a difference. There's a wonderful connection from the inside to the outside."
That connection also enriches a February visit to the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. The brilliant colors of the exotic plants are at their most vivid when contrasted with the gray of winter on the other side of the glass. A walk through the outdoor display gardens is rewarding regardless of the weather.
Nearby, Science World is a perfect place to spend a few hours on a rainy day. There are more than 150 interactive exhibits, including the Strobe Drop, which allows you to believe for a moment that you can do something about the weather. Adjust the strobe light shining on columns of dripping water and the droplets appear to be falling up. This month a special exhibit-- China! 7000 Years of Innovation--focuses on Chinese technology and science.