Scott Polar Research Institute
Curator(s): Charlotte Connelly, Curator, The Polar Museum
Number of works: 350+ Inuit
First work(s): Difficult to determine as the collection also includes many examples of early non-utilitarian objects, so the assessment of “art” is quite open
Recent acquisition(s): A large carving of a polar bear rendered in blue and green serpentinite by Lucassie Echalook, acquired in 2013.
Significant exhibitions: In 2010, the museum mounted Inuit Art: Masterworks from the Arctic and the simultaneous display Sananguaq: Inuit Art in Britain at Canada House in London, which brought together for the first time the collections of The Polar Museum and many works in private hands from throughout the United Kingdom.
Interesting/unique/surprising works in the collection: Nine graphite drawings from the early 1820s were collected during an expedition of the Foxe Basin. These works depict wildlife, tools and clothing, as well as a portrait of a British Naval Officer. Some have been attributed to a young Inuk, Toolooak.
Over the next five years, a particular focus for the museum is to identify new developments in Inuit art and to acquire representative examples for the collection. This will build on the 2008 acquisition of over 70 carvings and pieces of graphic art from 1950 to 2000, including works by Lucy Quinnuayuak (1915-1982), Pitseolak Ashoona, RCA, (1904-1983) and Annie Pootoogook (1969-2016), made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures award program. — CC