Artifacts found in and belonging to Nunavut have been present at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre since its inception. Some pieces in the collection have been in storage since they were acquired in the 1980s. Other items were exhibited in the Northern Heritage Centre galleries in the 1980s and 1990s.
With the creation of Nunavut and separation from the Northwest Territories in 1999 and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre’s renovation in 2003, all Nunavut materials were moved into storage where they could be properly cared for in a climate controlled environment.
Following an agreement with the Government of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Government of Nunavut is moving nearly 8,000 items that are categorized as Inuit Fine Arts; sculptures from across Nunavut, ceramics from Rankin Inlet, and wall hangings, tapestries, prints & drawings from communities like Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung and Baker Lake.
Many of Nunavut’s artifacts from archaeological research will remain in storage at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. These are objects relating to Inuit lifestyles, like hunting tools and household equipment; caribou skin clothing, arts and craft items; and historical objects like dentistry equipment from the former Chesterfield Inlet hospital and a ship’s bell from the Nascopie.
YELLOWKNIFE (February 17, 2016) – For the last month, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), in partnership with the Government of Nunavut and assisted by the GNWT, has been carefully packing nearly 8,000 Nunavut artifacts at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (PWNHC).
The artifacts will travel to the Winnipeg Art Gallery under a loan agreement with the Government of Nunavut. These art pieces are the first significant group of Nunavut objects to be removed from the PWNHC to be transferred to the Government of Nunavut’s care.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery has the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world, and with the addition of the Nunavut artifacts is planning a new Inuit Art Centre at the Gallery. In 2015, following an agreement with the Governments of Nunavut and Manitoba, the PWNHC began to prepare for the transfer of the collection.
“We are very excited about the agreement between Nunavut and Manitoba,” said Minister Alfred Moses, Education, Culture and Employment. “We have held this priceless collection in trust for the Government of Nunavut for many years, which reflects the rich cultural history of the Inuit people. I am pleased that these artifacts will be on display for the benefit of education and awareness, and provide cultural understanding of the historic value of this collection.”
When Nunavut was created in 1999, the collections of archives, museum objects, and archaeology were assessed by representatives from the GNWT and GN and the ownership over the material from the Eastern Arctic was transferred to the new territory. Since then, the PWNHC has continued to provide professional, high-quality care for these collections.
Caring for museum objects and archival records means ensuring the physical and chemical integrity of the pieces through conservation and preservation treatments. Over the years, the PWNHC has re-housed and treated many of the Nunavut items, along with its own collection of NWT objects. With permission from the Government of Nunavut, the PWNHC also facilitates visits from university students and professors, community members, artists and others who come to access the Nunavut objects.