Northwest Territories Museum digitizes hundreds of artworks in new online collection

The Prince of Wales Heritage Center in the Northwest Territories is making hundreds of its art objects viewable online, which the museum’s assistant curator, Ryan Silke, says will bring one of the world’s largest collections of sculpture, paintings, prints and textiles from the North to users without leaving their homes.

“We have a lot of well-known, very prolific artists across the territories and a lot of them are still producing today, so we’re really happy to showcase these works,” Silke told CBC Radio. End of the trail Host Lawrence Nayally.

The center is launching an online collection where people can view the center’s vast selection of art, giving greater access to a wealth of material that people might not otherwise see.

This aligns with the direction of many major museums that are beginning to house their collections on digital portals.

“It’s a way to bring collections directly to the user,” Silke said, adding that museums lack exhibition space and it can be difficult to get people to come and see them in person. nobody.

“Drummer” designed by John Farcy at Fort Providence in 1983. (John Farcy, PWNHC catalog number 983.027.021)

Northwest Territories Museum digitizes hundreds of artworks in new online
An untitled 1977 wall hanging of 11 figures in fleece of wool, stroud, sinew and caribou hide by Elizabeth Hummituq in Gjoa Haven. (Elizabeth Hummituq/PWNHC catalog number 977.015.001)

Silke said during the pandemic, heritage center staff worked with software engineers to create a web portal based on part of the museum that categorizes fine art – which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and tapestries.

There are objects such as the sculptor Dolphus Cadieux, the Inuinnais graphic designer Helen Kalvak, the Métis artist Don Cardinal, the painter James Wedzin and the Inuit printmaker, painter and draftsman Germaine Arnaktauyok.

There are also contemporary and lesser-known artists like Didy Woolgar, a 1960s watercolourist, Gwich’in painter William Bonnetplume, who created oil paintings, pen and ink drawings, cartoons and even woodcarvings and Wally Wolf who made many works on the theme of aviation. paintings.

1651573145 887 Northwest Territories Museum digitizes hundreds of artworks in new online
A 1970s portrait of Charles Gruben of Tuktoyaktuk titled ‘The Boxer’ by Mona Thrasher. This piece was made in Inuvik. (Mona Thrasher/PWNHC catalog number 2004.005.085)

The collection includes world-renowned sculptures by Harold Pfeiffer, who was commissioned to create bronze bust statues in the 1970s of such prominent Northern figures as Stuart Hodgson, Annie McPherson, midwife Harriet Gladue and pilot bushman Clennell Haggerston “Punch” Dickins.

The bronze statues “really immortalise” the individuals, Silke said, and hold significance for their descendants who wish to see these objects.

First step in digitalization

As you browse the gallery, you’ll see stargazing pearls by Margaret Nazon, sketches by AY Jackson, painted portraits by Mona Thrasher, pen and ink works by Walt Humphries, David Ruben Piqtoukun and John Farcy of Fort Providence, and the multi-media sealskin wall hangings.

The works are from the Northwest Territories, but include works made in the Eastern Arctic.

1651573146 483 Northwest Territories Museum digitizes hundreds of artworks in new online
A 1994 painting by Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyok titled Sedna — The Storm. The painting is one of 1,400 works of art included in the museum’s new online portal. (Germaine Arnaktauyok/PWNHC catalog number 994.007.001)

Because the museum only has 1,400 works of art – out of a total of 75,000 objects – the museum felt this would be an easy collection to start with.

“Art is not really a well-used part of our collection because we are not by definition an art gallery. »

“In the years to come, we will really work on creating collections of photographers and other collections related to science and cultural history. [available] too,” Silke said.

The works on display have been collected over the museum’s 40 years of existence and include creations by more than 200 artists.

Each article is searchable by artist, culture, region or date, and will be presented with information about the work as well as high definition photos.

Silke encouraged anyone interested in particular objects to make available during the search to let the museum know.

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