UBC Museum of Anthropology receives $7 million donation of Indigenous art

Yesterday morning, President Santa Ono announced that the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) will receive a collection of Indigenous art worth $7 million. The collection contains more than 200 pieces of art, and is being gifted to the museum by an anonymous donor.

The historic collection is believed to be one of the largest collections of northwest coast First Nations art and the largest of its kind to return to British Columbia. Its contents include a variety of rare works, fine carvings, jewelry, basketry and textiles by contemporary Indigenous artists.

“The permanent home for this collection will be a beautiful new gallery of northwest coast masterworks, which we will have in time for National Aboriginal Day on June 21st, 2017,” said Ono.

This new gallery has received funding through Doggone Foundation and the federal government, who will be donating $3 million and $500,000 dollars respectively.

Joyce Murray, member of parliament for Vancouver Quadra, explained that the government is funding the project through the Canada 150 community infrastructure program.

“The Canada 150 Infrastructure program is a fantastic way for communities across Canada to celebrate our 150th anniversary of the confederation, and so investments in the upgrades of this museum are not only about creating jobs and encouraging economic growth, they are also about enriching the community and promoting awareness of art and culture,” said Murray.

Jordan Wilson, Aboriginal curator-in-residence at MOA, spoke to the significance of the collection at the event.

“[This donation] provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of these historical projects or works of art — or as my community refers to them, belongings,” said Wilson.

Wilson highlighted how these belongings act as teachings and speak to the relationships that Canadians have with their ancestors.

“Like good art in today’s world, these belongings express what is hard to convey in words,” said Wilson. “We seek to contribute to an ongoing discourse about historical northwest coast art, or belongings, and about the contemporary issues that we face today.”