National Gallery of Aboriginal Art Proposal

The idea for a national institution for all Canadian Aboriginal art, historic and contemporary, located in Vancouver, and has gained considerable national support and momentum. As Canadian Aboriginal Art takes its rightful place in the mainstream of national and international cultural activity, the lack of a major dedicated showcase for this work becomes increasingly apparent. Currently, Aboriginal art can be found in a number of institutions across Canada and around the world, but no single major public institution exists in which the remarkably rich and varied manifestation of the modern and contemporary is celebrated, nor is it permanently exhibited in context.

A new National Gallery of Aboriginal Art would be an international stage. Created with all the curatorial and presentation skills available, along with the ever-evolving technologies, the Aboriginal art gallery would bring together the finest and most well-known works of modern and contemporary art. Contextual and interactive learning materials designed to demonstrate the place of modern and contemporary Aboriginal art in relation to the continuum of aboriginal cultural expression, would be developed and presented to the broad range of Canadian society.

Aboriginal artists have longed to move “out of the glass box” of ethnology museums into the art galleries of the future. An argument has long suggested that this would “ghettoize” Aboriginal art; yet there has been no alternative vision that has built a strong intellectual foundation. The proposed would do this.

As well it would be oriented to culturally diverse audiences of Canadians and international visitors who identify Canada as “aboriginal” in character. It would provide a national and international focal-point for Aboriginal pride and self-understanding for all Canadians for the 21st century, – especially in a country where shared culture will be a central pillar of social health, economic development, and intellectual growth.

A National Gallery of Aboriginal Art
Proposal for a Realization Plan
October 2004 – PDF