UBC's Museum of Anthropology has cancelled an exhibit featuring 69 large-scale paintings of missing and murdered women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside -- including victims of serial killer Robert Pickton – because of concerns from community groups that it would cause distress to the women's families.

The MOA announced Wednesday that Vancouver-based artist Pamela Masik's exhibition, The Forgotten, which features two-and-a-half by three metre oil paintings of women's faces, would not open in February as expected because of "unresolved issues."

"Serious concerns have been raised by some individuals and groups that by showing the paintings, we might cause further distress to the families and friends of the missing and murdered women," Director Anthony Shelton said in a release.

The Downtown Eastside Women's Centre is one of the groups that supports the decision.

"We strongly support the multiple levels of critiques surrounding this exhibit," a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson from the Pacific Association of First Nations Women said that they commended the MOA for "vying for the families of the missing and murdered women."

Masik announced in a statement that she accepts the decision but disagrees with the censorship.

"It saddens me," she said. "I see this as society's continuing refusal to acknowledge what happened to these women. I saw my role as an artist to bear witness to the 69 women who were marginalized, went missing and many, ultimately murdered, not by the hands of a serial killer but by our society viewing these women as inconsequential."

In the past few decades, dozens of women have vanished from the Downtown Eastside.

The remains or DNA of 33 women who disappeared from the neighbourhood were found on Pickton's pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

He was convicted of killing six women, and a public inquiry has been announced to examine the failed police investigation that allowed Pickton to continue killing.