Weekend Fun: Whale Bone Porn and Tattoos at Vancouver Maritime Museum

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whalebone

Vancouver Maritime Museum, located in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park (1905 Ogden Avenue), is often sleepy. But it shouldn’t be. Especially not with an exciting new exhibit Tattoos & Scrimshaw: The Art of the Sailor featuring controversial, headline-making “whale bone porn.”

Museum curator Patricia Owen, who did her thesis on Haida tattoos, and tattoo artist Christ Hold have worked together on a collection of contemporary photography, illustrations, equipment, tattoo “flash”, and dozens of pieces of scrimshaw – engravings made on whalebone.

The scrimshaw is the controversial stuff. One Vancouver mum kicked up a fuss over the etchings, some of which are moderately lusty. You can take a look at the raunch-levels  and judge for yourself. While Ann Pimentel, the outraged mom, has requested that the scrimshaw is moved to its own room with 18+ entry, the Vancouver Maritime Museum already has the scrimshaw off to the side, in an elevated case to keep them away from children.

Meanwhile the outcry (National Post; Jezebel) over “whale bone porn” has boosted interest in the new exhibition.

In my opinion, the tattoos are the cool bit. For early sailors, a tattoo was an identity statement and a description of achievements and places visited. The Tyee lists these examples: a single anchor denotes passage across the Pacific, a dragon indicates time spent in the Orient. A palm tree to shows service in Hawaii. Crossed anchors indicates that the sailor was a boatswain or a boatswain’s mate, while crossed cannons signifies service in the navy.

The exhibit will be at Vancouver Maritime Museum through October 13. Entry by donation 5-8pm on Thursday nights.

Photo: Arlen Redekop/Postmedia NewsPart of the Tattoos & Scrimshaw: The Art of the Sailor exhibit at the Vancouver Maritime Museum

Last modified: April 11, 2013

4 Responses to " Weekend Fun: Whale Bone Porn and Tattoos at Vancouver Maritime Museum "

  1. Christine says:

    Looking at the photo on the National Post article you linked to, I can’t really see any porn here. Any museum showing Gauguin, Rodin or anything Italian for that matter would have paintings and sculptures just as “saucy”.

    The best thing about Ann Pimentel’s concern is that it’s generated interest in the exhibit. Hurray!

  2. Taraneh says:

    100% agree!

  3. Taraneh says:

    Yes. There’s that too: ‘Robinson acknowledged the museum does not know if the carvings are authentic — “we can’t say that for sure” — but he believes at least some of them are.’