UBC’s Museum of Anthropology receives $10.5 million in Indigenous art and infrastructure funding

Tlingit?, 19th century, Sheep horn, Object #169
Tlingit?, 19th century, Sheep horn, Object #169

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia will be home to a significant collection of historical and contemporary Indigenous artworks and a new Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Doggone Foundation and the Government of Canada.

The anonymous donation of more than 200 pieces of Indigenous art, worth an estimated $7 million, is believed to be the largest collection of Northwest Coast First Nations art to return to B.C. in recent decades. The donor was first inspired to amass this superlative collection of Northwest Coast art after seeing totem poles in Stanley Park in the 1970s. With this donation, which includes rare historical works as well as fine carvings, jewellery, basketry and textiles by Indigenous artists such as Bill Reid, Charles Edenshaw, Robert Davidson, Isabel Rorick, and Dempsey Bob, MOA’s already renowned Northwest Coast art now ranks among the world’s finest.

“It is an honour for UBC to receive this distinguished collection of Indigenous art at MOA where it will be accessible to both the campus community and visitors,” said UBC President Prof. Santa Ono. “The collection supports the university’s long-standing commitment to Aboriginal engagement, and to furthering the public’s awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultures and histories.”

The collection will be housed in a new Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks, funded by a $3-million donation from the Doggone Foundation, a Montreal-based charity, and a $500,000 grant from the federal government as part of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

“The Museum of Anthropology will provide a spectacular backdrop to showcase this impressive collection of Northwest Coast masterworks,” said Paul Marchand, executive director of the Doggone Foundation. “We are incredibly proud to provide an innovative and engaging gallery space that will invite museum visitors to slow down and spend time with each object and artifact.”

“The Government of Canada is committed to building strong, nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous Peoples and to developing a legacy of modern, reliable infrastructure,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development and the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “That’s why we are proud to invest in this new gallery at the Museum of Anthropology that will showcase the rich cultural history of the Northwest Coast First Nations.”

Construction of the new gallery begins this month and is expected to be completed in time to open to the public by National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017. Along with highlights from the donated collection, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition will also include works from MOA’s collection as well as private and institutional lenders, and will feature the voices of contemporary Indigenous artists reflecting on the significance of the works shown.

“The belongings made by our ancestors have always helped tell the story of who we are and where we come from. I am excited by the possibilities of contemporary community members and artists engaging with this collection,” said Jordan Wilson, MOA’s Musqueam curator-in-residence.

With support from the Musqueam community, whose traditional ancestral territory includes UBC’s Point Grey campus, the new gallery will further MOA’s long-standing collaborations with First Nations artists and community members in order to research and build new knowledge about Northwest Coast art. More than 90 per cent of historical Indigenous Northwest Coast art is currently held in museums and private collections outside B.C. Bringing these objects closer to home supports a new generation of First Nations artists who are studying and teaching the historical development of their arts, the creative legacy of past masters and their techniques of production, and ways of interpreting the connection of these works to ancestral stories and cultural practices today.

“These artworks have been on a remarkable journey,” said MOA director Anthony Shelton. “Originally created on the Northwest Coast, they are now back home in B.C. and where they can be shared with the world.”


About MOA

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs, and community connections. Located in a spectacular building overlooking mountains and sea, Canada’s largest teaching museum houses more than 45,000 ethnographic objects and 535,000 archaeological objects, including many that originate from Asia and the Northwest Coast of British Columbia.


About the Doggone Foundation

The Doggone Foundation is a Montreal-based registered charity that funds a variety of causes, including artistic, medical and educational research programs, as well as organizations committed to environmental protection, community welfare, and the promotion of Indigenous art and culture.


PHOTO GALLERY: The UBC Museum of Anthropology’s new Indigenous art collection