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May 2007 - Nr.


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One of a Kind Collection of
First Nations Art
Returns to Canadian Soil

 Toronto – After nearly 150 years overseas, one of the country’s greatest collections of First Nations Art has returned to Canada and will be exhibited this summer at the AGO when the Gallery presents Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection. The exhibtion opens July 18 and remains on view until October 7, 2007.

Treasures of the Tsimshian features 39 First Nations objects from the 18th and 19th centuries ranging from everyday items such as spoons and bowls to ceremonial and decorative works. Highlights of the exhibition include two wooden ceremonial masks, two clubs carved from antler and a clan hat.

"The Dundas Collection is among the most important collections of North American First Nations art in existence," says Gerald McMaster, curator of Canadian Art at the AGO. "The return of these works gives Canadians the opportunity to not only see the beauty of these objects, but reflect on this country’s First Nations history."

Originally acquired by Rev. Robert James Dundas, a missionary working in British Columbia, this collection of Tsimshian First Nations art has been absent from Canada since 1863 until the works were auctioned off by Sotheby’s in October of 2006 for more than $7 million. The items were purchased by a group of seven private buyers and three institutions committed to keeping the collection in Canada.

After extensive consultation with Tsimshian community leaders, the owners of the works have assembled a number of items from this important collection, shown earlier this year at the Museum of Northern British Columbia and the Royal BC Museum, before travelling to the AGO.

"The exhibtion provides a glimpse into the future of the Art Gallery of Ontario," says McMaster. "We are at the threshold of the new, transformed AGO, where we have added substantial African and Oceanic collections and will, eventually, boast of our own collection of First Nations historical art."

Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection is one of five exhibitions comprising the AGO’s extraordinary summer line up. The following exhibitions are on view June 23: Medieval and Renaissance Treasures from the Victoria and Albert Museum; Bernini in Focus; Hungry God; A Couple of Ways of Doing Something featuring photographs by Chuck Close and poems by Bob Holman.

This distinct offering allows audiences to engage in various art experiences for one ticketed price of $15, before the reopening of the transformed AGO in 2008.

The AGO is proud to recognize Westerkirk Capital Inc. as the Major Sponsor of Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection.

Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection is organized by the Royal BC Museum.


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