One of Reid's earliest attempts at carving was a minature tea set which he created from classroom chalk and painted with nail polish. It is so small and intricate that it needs to be viewed under a magnifying glass.
The highlight of the gallery is Reid's carving called Mythic Messengers which spans an entire wall of the Great Hall where it is hung up high. It can be seen at eye level from the second floor, where a video helps to isolate and describes each of the five central components. These consist of:
- A Grizzly Bear family with the bear prince, his human wife and their two baby cubs
- A Killer Whale which abducts a woman while her husband hangs on in front
- A Sea Wolf who eats three whales a day
- A Dog Fish with a female shaman hanging onto its tail
- A Eagle Prince riding in the beak of a giant eagle
There are four images on the $20 bill. The most prominent is his iconic sculpture of "Spirit of the Haida Gwai" with all the creatures paddling in the canoe. Behind it is a round yellow ceremonial drum embossed with the image of a grizzly bear. Faintly imprinted in the lower left corner is his equally famous Raven and the first men with the large raven sitting on top of the clam shell containing the first Haida people. And in the top right corner is the Killer Whale portion of the Mythic Messengers.
There was an entire room dedicated to Bill Reid's jewelry designs including brooches, necklaces, pendants, bracelets. I liked the "Cluster of Seven Frogs" necklace with 22 karat gold frogs attached by pale blue sea snail shells.
Reid's drawings and paintings show his changing styles, from traditional Haida images and colours, to renderings that still depict Haida themes but with a more modern interpretation. He even created drawings that reference back to his carvings, as in his 1991 "There Are Two Sides to Every Story".which shows two "Spirit of the Haida Gwai" canoes battling the rough seas.