The Dundas Collection, a treasure trove of North Coast First Nations artifacts will be on display starting Friday at the Museum of Northern BC. The exhibition will run through until April 14th.
The Daily News provided full details on the collection and the history behind it in the Wednesday edition of the paper.
TREASURED ARTIFACTS RETURN FOR NORTH COAST EXHIBITION
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Considered by many to be the finest collection of First Nation’s art in existence, the multi-million dollar Dundas Collection will be unveiled at the Museum of Northern B.C. this week.
“We went up and met with (Hereditary Chiefs and Elders) in Lax Kw’alaams in the fall and we were impressed with their messaging that the first place the exhibit should open should be at the Museum of Northern B.C. and on the traditional territory of the Tsimshian,” said Grant Hughes, director, Curatorial Services Branch, Royal B.C. Museum. “It’s going to be marvelous for everybody up North to take a look at.”
The collection — much of which was given up as part of Metlakatla’s conversion to Christianity by Anglican missionary William Duncan — had been part of a longstanding dispute between First Nations, who argue the cultural artifacts were expropriated, and the family of the Rev. Robert James Dundas who had obtained the artifacts from Duncan after visiting the missionary in October 1863. The artifacts, most of which had belonged to Tsimshian Grand Chief Paul Legaic, were auctioned off at Sotheby’s in October 2006 by Dundas’ great-grandson.
“This collection has got tremendous significance because of what we call the providence or the known age of the collection, (because) of where it was collected in 1863 and the fact that it has been brought back in more or less a completed constituent group to the people of Canada and B.C to take a look at,” said Hughes. “The most significant pieces of that entire collection are grouped together in this exhibition.”
The Royal B.C. Museum is helping to facilitate the tour of the collection which begins with an event on Thursday by invitation only due to limited exhibit space. However, the public will have access to the collection beginning on Friday and it will then stay at the museum until April 14.
“The first thing that we would do obviously is check with the local First Nations to look at what the appropriate protocols would be,” said Hughes on preparations for the exhibit. “The artifacts have been condition reported — sort of checked over from a conservation point of view — and transported up to Prince Rupert for the opening and blessing on Thursday afternoon.”