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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Despite pandemic, Montreal art museum works to build links with Inuit

Nunatsiaq News | August 12, 2020

Categories: news

Despite pandemic, Montreal art museum works to build links with Inuit

Plans include revamped Inuit art display, new exhibitions

By Jane George

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts continues to move ahead with big plans for new Inuit-focused exhibits.

That’s despite the challenges of organizing exhibits and then welcoming visitors under COVID-19 restrictions.

The museum intends to continue strengthening the links between the north and south of Quebec, said Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, a curator and mediator of Inuit art at the museum.

One of Koperqualuk’s goals is to renew the museum’s exhibition of its Inuit collection, which is now housed in a small room.

The planned reinstallation will allow for a larger display of works in the current collection, as well as the inclusion of new pieces from young artists, Koperqualuk said.

These are likely to be grouped around different themes related to Inuit culture, such as qaqqiq, or family—”the basis of our communities,” and sila—”the relationship with our environment,” she said.

“But nothing is definite yet because of the pandemic,” Koperqualuk said.

Still, Inuit can look forward to learning more about their culture through this art, which talks about shamanism and legends, she said.

“Through art you can gain a good understanding of things that are important and expressed through art,” Koperqualuk said. “Our storytelling was stopped by missionaries, but it continues through art. So even us, we can learn about ourselves.”

The museum has several exhibitions planned with a Nunavik connection, including an exhibition of acclaimed artist Mattiusi Iyaituk of Ivujivik.

Other plans include the repatriation of a qajaq from Rennes, France.

This qajaq had been in the private collection of historian Christophe-Paul de Robien, who died in 1756. It’s thought to be the oldest intact Canadian kayak in the world, said former museum director Nathalie Bondil in June.

Under Bondil, who was dismissed this summer, the museum moved to align itself more closely with Inuit in 2018, signing an agreement with Nunavik’s Avataq Cultural Institute, which is based in Montreal.

Plans then included a move by Avataq from its present location in Westmount to museum-owned properties on Crescent St.

But Avataq now wants to move its Montreal office to Nunavik, so this Crescent St. space may develop into more of a cultural centre, Avataq’s executive director Robert Fréchette told Nunatsiaq News earlier this summer.

Originally posted as: George, Jane. "Despite Pandemic, Montreal Art Museum Works to Build Links with Inuit." Nunatsiaq News. August 12, 2020.

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