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Canadian Museum of Civilization presents Treasures of the Tsimshian



Canadian Museum of Civilization presents Treasures of the Tsimshian

Gatineau, Quebec, November 1, 2007 — A new exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization is giving visitors a chance to admire spectacular works of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century First Nations art, which are back home in Canada after spending 143 years in private hands.

Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection, on display at the Museum of Civilization from November 2, 2007 until January 6, 2008, features 37 artifacts from one of the most important collections of North American First Nations art in existence. The objects, ranging from everyday items such as spoons and bowls to ceremonial and decorative works, illustrate the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the Tsimshian people of British Columbia’s Pacific Coast. Highlights include two exquisite wooden ceremonial masks, two clubs carved from antler, and a clan hat.

“We have a mandate to preserve and protect important parts of our national heritage as well as to share this heritage with as many people as possible,” says Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “This travelling exhibition marks the first time the Dundas Collection has been on public display in almost 150 years, so we hope that Canadians take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to view artifacts of such cultural and historical value.”

The famed Dundas Collection was acquired by Scottish clergyman Reverend Robert James Dundas in 1863, in Old Metlakatla near present-day Prince Rupert, B.C. He purchased the items from William Duncan, an Anglican missionary whose Tsimshian followers gave up their traditional regalia as part of their conversion to Christianity.

Dundas brought the collection back to his home near Edinburgh, Scotland, where it remained in his family until last year. His great-grandson, Simon Carey, sold the collection through Sotheby’s New York in October 2006 for more than $7 million USD, setting a Sotheby’s record for North American First Nations art. Canadian museums, individuals and organizations purchased the bulk of the objects.

The Museum of Civilization acquired a wooden bowl, a wooden comb with a high relief carving of an animal, a decorated wooden food dish and a pair of Athapaskan birch bark baskets, domestic objects that complement the collection of Tsimshian material the Museum has developed since the early twentieth century.

The Royal British Columbia Museum, which organized Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection, worked closely with the chiefs and elders of the Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw’Alaams and Metlakatla to develop the exhibition.

The Dundas Collection made its debut in traditional territory of the Tsimshian First Nations, at the Museum of Northern British Columbia in Prince Rupert, before being presented at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and now, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.

This touring exhibition was organized by the Royal BC Museum and sponsored by Westerkirk Capital.

Media Information:

Chief, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7167

Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7169

Fax: 819 776-7187


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