Inuit art has long been a narrative expression, a way in which Inuit tell the stories of their lives and their communities. In many ways, sharing Inuit art with others is a form of healing and reconciliation. Our art gives the rest of the world insight into our thoughts, ideas and perspectives; it is this insight that fosters greater understanding and appreciation of Inuit and culture. The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture and Heritage has taken positive steps to ensure that our art, and thus our stories, can be experienced by Inuit and non-Inuit around the world.
Last year, Culture and Heritage signed an Agreement with the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), which saw the transfer of Nunavut’s art collection from Yellowknife’s Prince of Wales Heritage Centre to Winnipeg. The WAG is currently building an Inuit Art Centre to celebrate and honour this collection; the Centre will be the first of its kind in the world and will become a link between people in the South and people in the North to learn from each other and build on our understanding and appreciation of Inuit culture. Once completed, the Centre will house the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, including carvings, prints, drawings, videos, and performing arts. In addition, the Centre will include cultural exhibitions that showcase Inuit oral histories, and interactive zones for children to learn about Inuit culture through play. This agreement also includes an exhibit in Washington, DC, from June 15 to October 20, 2017, featuring art from Baker Lake and Inuit wall hangings.
Our partnership with the WAG has also allowed us to develop training and internship modules to train Nunavummiut as cultural workers — as curators, educators, conservators, designers, and cultural marketers. Through innovative and collaborative education, training and exhibit programs, we now have the opportunity to provide greater public accessibility to our art and heritage collections, and help develop new employable skills for local Inuit in the art industry.
We are also in the process of moving Nunavut’s heritage collection from the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre in Yellowknife to the Canadian Museum of Nature’s (CMN) research facility in the National Capital region. The transfer of Nunavut’s museum and archives collections to the CMN will present exciting opportunities for collaborative research, education and exhibition programs.
Though the territory does not yet have a Heritage facility to house our complete collection, we are continuing to look for ways to bring our collections through Nunavut so they can also be appreciated in the communities where these beautiful pieces have been created.
I hope that all Nunavummiut take pride in the growing awareness and popularity of Inuit art around the world. It is a testament to our vibrant culture and its artful expression, an expression the GN is committed to protecting and enhancing for the enjoyment of future generations.
Minister of Culture and Heritage Government of Nunavut