Museum of Vancouver’s upcoming exhibition asks the question: What is happiness?

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — We usually ask ourselves, “How can we be more happy?” Rarely do we find the answer to this challenging question. Yet, Stefan Sagmeister’s “The Happy Show” will try to solve some of the most onerous dilemmas of happiness.

How can one be more happy? I for one have not one perceptible clue. Do we find it in things, people, or something as simple as a good cup of coffee?

The exhibition will be featured over two floors at the MOV, making it one of the largest to ever be put on in the museum’s history. It will be constructed of video screens, info-graphics, interactive machines, and even a bike that powers a neon sign. All of which have been designed to discuss issues such as mindfulness, well-being, and even sex, and according to the MOV, ” transcend the boundary between art and design.” Visitors will also be able to enjoy an extended preview of Sagmeister’s soon-to-be-released documentary “The Happy Film.”

“’The Happy Show’ arrives as the wellbeing of Metro Vancouver residents is at the forefront of attention. The Vancouver Foundation has recently reported that Lower Mainland residents feel lonely and isolated. Our local and provincial governments are now recognizing that social connection is crucial for personal happiness and for a thriving city,” says Gregory Dreicer, MOV Director of Curatorial and Engagement.TheHappyShow-SagmeisterWalsh4

Stefan Sagmeister, born in Austria in 1962, has been studying the meaning of happiness for the past 10 years as he struggled with alcohol, drugs, weight gain, and even depression. He has called this exhibition an amalgamation of all his beliefs and experiences that he gathered in those 10 years. In fact, his upcoming documentary will chronicle his various attempts at bettering his own state of joy, through different techniques, including cognitive therapy, meditation, and mood-altering drugs.

Sagmeister published numerous popular books, and is the winner of two Grammy Awards, the Lucky Strike Designer award, among a great deal more. He is also the co-founder of the New York-based design firm Sagmeister & Walsh.

The question of happiness, rather forcibly, make us think of what it might mean to us personally. Surely it cannot be something fully objective, as happiness is an individual thing that is different for each one of us. Yet, at the root of it all we might be surprised that there is a lot of common ground in what makes humans happy, regardless of gender, and background. I guess we have to wait for Sagmeister’s exhibition, and we might just find out.

In case that you do not have the patience to wait you can take a sneak peak at Sagmeister’s blog, that features some of the works and ideas that will be presented in the show.

The Museum of Vancouver is an award-winning authority on Vancouver’s history, sharing the region’s stories from its Aboriginal beginnings to contemporary topics. “The Happy Show” is set to open on April 23, and will run until September.

Images by Museum of Vancouver.

By Milad Doroudian.

Child of Holocaust survivors, Jeanne Beker, to lead book launch

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Jeanne Beker, a child of holocaust survivors, will lead the Azrieli Foundation Book Launch, with a reading of her parents’ memoir, “Joy Runs Deeper,” at the Museum of Vancouver on Thursday, Feb. 19.

“Joy Runs Deeper,” by Bronia and Joseph Beker, is an important literary view of the way life was in Poland, precisely in Kozowa, a small town in the east, after the 1939 invasion by Nazi Germany. The memoir is a rich tale of luck, kindness, but most importantly, it is filled with the narratives of two people that survived hell.

The Bekers, who were both born in a small shtetl in Eastern Poland, managed to survive the war, through horrible circumstances, yet the most important moral of the story is that they did it together.

In a statement released by the Museum of Vancouver, Jeanne Beker said, “As a child of [Holocaust] survivors, I’m keenly aware that I have been left with a legacy that’s as powerfully daunting as it is inspiring.

“Now I realize it was [my parents’] storytelling [about their experiences during the Holocaust] that made me who I am, colouring my personal philosophies, imparting a sense of resilience and instilling in me a precious instinct for survival,” said Beker.

This will be the first time the book will be launched on the West Coast. The entire experience will be enriched by the Museum of Vancouver, who will put on an exhibition that features rare examples of haute couture and Vancouver-made clothing and accessories that reflect how WWII changed society as a whole.

In a CBC interview last year, Jeanne Beker expressed,”Most Holocaust survivors do not want to tell their stories. They do not want to openly talk about it because it is so painful.”

The reading will be an important experience for those who are interested in learning more about the Shoah, as well as the Second World War.

The reading has been organized by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre in partnership with the Azrieli Foundation and the Museum of Vancouver.

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre is the leading institution in British Columbia that is dedicated to teaching Holocaust education, with a particular focus on Canada.

The Museum of Vancouver holds numerous exhibitions on Vancouver’s past, but also aims to connect Vancouver to the world.

The Azrieli Foundation pledged $5 million to to the Birthright Israel Foundation of Canada at the beginning of February.

By Milad Doroudian

Image by Daniele Dalledonne

Neon and history: Museum of Vancouver’s permanent light show

Neon and history: Museum of Vancouver’s Permanent Light Show
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The 50s and 60s were gaudy times in Vancouver, not only because of the people, but also the neon lights that cluttered most of its main streets. The incessant buzzing sound in the Museum of Vancouver’s Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver exhibit is an impassioned window into what Vancouver might have looked like before it was this boring.

The exhibit, which is run by the museum’s curator Joan Seidl and was created by Revolve Design, has been open since 2011. It is a riveting look at a period when people did not have to worry about electric bills shutting their business down, and lobbying did not have much pull in town hall.

The MOV website claims that there were around 19,000 signs in Vancouver through the uncanny decades of fluorescent debauchery.

“The exhibition raises interesting questions about how we collectively construct the way our city is portrayed,” says Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver curator, Joan Seidl, Director of Exhibitions and Collections at MOV. “There was a real push in the 60s and 70s to redefine Vancouver as a green, natural space. While we may love neon today, there was a real outcry against neon signs, which represented a more industrial, urban city.”

Yet there is more to neon, at least back then, than meets the eye — or better said, burns it. It was undoubtedly a sign of economic growth, at least among small business owners, whose efforts in trying to catch people’s attentions with the most luminous designs usually paid off, until the streets simply got too busy, and even too shiny.

Vancouver, experienced a surge of industrial expansion, especially in the 60s, which translated into relatively better wages and generally a better standard of living. Still, for many this did not mean that they wanted neon signs taking over their city. The contrast must have been exceptional, between the nature that surrounds Vancouver, and the signs that buzzed in the streets.

The surprise that is not so evident however is that a great deal of Vancouverites have failed to see the exhibit, let alone visit the Museum of Vancouver which holds so much treasure-in historical format. It seems that when I ask someone my age if they have seen or heard about it, it is astonishing to find out that they did not. Not only that, but they did not know that at one point in its history Vancouver was lighted up with pink and red, and not just grey concrete, and blue glass.

By Milad Doroudian

Images by Suzanne Rushton.