Playthings and Curios: Historic Inuit Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Playthings and Curios
Historic Inuit Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
by Maria von Finckenstein

We generally refer to the "historic period" as the era in Inuit art between the arrival of the Moravian missionaries in Labrador in the 1770s and the beginning of contemporary Inuit art marked by James Houston's visit to Nunavik in 1948. Anthropologists call this period contact-traditional. It was a time when Inuit culture, although still largely traditional, had changed to some degree due to the people's contact with whalers, traders and other outsiders. The Canadian Museum of Civilization (CMC) has a rich collection from this period as a result of its close association with the Geological Survey of Canada.

In the interests of authenticity and respect for the original texts, we have retained in these pages expressions that were commonly used during the historic period, but that are no longer used today. The terms "Eskimo" and "Native," for example, have today been replaced by "Inuit." To identify original titles assigned by the photographers and collectors themselves, we have set these in quotation marks.