Where the Thunderbird lives cultural resilience on the Northwest Coast of North America


This is a transformation mask used in feast performances by the Kwakwaka’wakw people of the west coast of Canada. The dancer wearing the mask is able to transform the mask by opening the ten rays to reveal a sun or ancestral figure.

See this brilliant mask along with other objects that explore cultural resilience on the Northwest Coast of North America in this free exhibition.

This exhibition showcases the rich cultural heritage of Northwest Coast Peoples through remarkable and powerful objects spanning thousands of years.


Northwest Coast Peoples inhabit the mountainous fjords, lush islands and temperate forests that stretch along the coastline from Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state. They have created some of the most extraordinary carving and weaving traditions in North America. In this exhibition, explore these rich traditions through objects including ceremonial masks and rattles, elegantly woven robes and baskets, and contemporary prints and jewellery.

The exhibition reveals the stories and histories behind the works of art that have united generations and provided stability in the face of change. The display features many images of the legendary Thunderbird, who uses his great strength and power to hunt whales – a skill he gave to some communities. Objects dating from 600 BC to the present day highlight the resilience of Northwest Coast Peoples, who maintain their identity and way of life in a rapidly changing world.

23 February – 27 August 2017

Room 91

Supported by the High Commission of Canada in the UK.

the High Commission of Canada in the UK

the High Commission of Canada in the UK

Additional support by
Steven Larcombe and Sonya Leydecker
PF Charitable Trust


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