Tag Archives: collections

Introducing Our New Collections Manager Intern!

13 Jan


My name is Beth Pufall and I am currently a student at Centennial College as part of the Culture and Heritage Site Management post-graduate program. I am pleased to join the MIA as the Collections Management Intern.

Having completed my bachelor’s degree in art history, I have a passion for art and culture and how they can be articulated through the museum experience. Already, I am enjoying learning about Inuit art, a subject that I have little experience with. Through my internship here at MIA, I am excited to immerse myself in the world of museum collections and gain knowledge about handling museum objects. Over the next four months I’m most looking forward to working with the objects in the MIA’s collection, which are both diverse and intriguing.

– Posted by Beth P., MIA’s Collections Manager Intern

I’ve Got A Bone to Pick!

11 Jul
Manice "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

“Faces (Bone on Bone)” by Manasie Akpaliapik (1955- ), Qikiqtaaluk, ossified whalebone, MIA Collection, 2013.4.30.1-2.

As the Young Canada Works Collections Management Officer here at the MIA, I started my summer off with a group of works – mostly stone sculpture – acquired by the museum in 2013.  I have always been interested in different materials used in the production of objects and Inuit art is no exception. So, from day one, I’m sure I sounded like a broken record: “Alysa, what kind of stone is this?”  Until finally, I began to recognize the vibrant greens of the serpentinite of a Toonoo Sharky, RCA and the bold black basalt in Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s work.

Toonoo Sharky "Spirit Fish"

“Spirit Fish” by Toonoo Sharky (1970- ), Kinngait (Cape Dorset), serpentinite stone, ivory, MIA Collection, 2013.4.41.

Barnabus "Man"

“Man” by Barnabus Arnasungaaq (1924 – ), Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), basalt stone, MIA Collection, 2013.4.55.











Soon after I familiarized myself with the stone, I was thrown a curve-ball when I was tasked with cataloging and condition reporting Untitled [Faces (Bone on Bone)] by Manasie Akpaliapik.  I found this carving absolutely striking not only in the way the artist has created an eerily lifelike face but because it was a completely new medium to me: ossified whalebone.

amazed cat gif

My face during the entire experience.

Ossified whalebone is bone from whales that has been dried out over time making it a viable medium for carvings (prior to my time, someone very eloquently explained the process of whalebone carving on this very blog so I won’t go into great detail here). I have worked with bone before, both animal and human(!), but never whalebone!  This medium has the same bubbly-spongy look to it as a lot of other bone but only whale-sized!  I was entranced by its texture and managed to find a magnifying glass so I could get an even closer look!  For what felt like a long time I was lost in the microcosm of the whalebone. When I returned to reality, I finished cataloging and condition reporting the piece.  As Collections Management Officer I am required to take detailed photos of each piece and these definitely turned out to be some of my favourites!

Detail of "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

Detail of “Faces (Bone on Bone)”

Take a look and see what you think!

Detail of "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

Detail of “Faces (Bone on Bone)”

Posted by: Lauren Williams, MIA’s Collections Management Officer

Meet Our Collections Team! Introducing Lily J.

29 Sep


Hi everyone!
I’m thrilled to be a brand-new addition to the team here at MIA while the museum undertakes a collections audit – a lengthy, intensive, but critical process that ensures everything is a collection is in order (spoiler: it’s usually not).

As a result of changing technologies, changing people, and changing practices, the ways in which a museum keeps track of it’s collection can change drastically over time. Collections audits are regular procedures undertaken to ensure that, despite these changes, a museum can still uphold it’s mission, mandate and vision.

I’ve been a big fan of collections work ever since my somewhat non-traditional entrance into the museum profession during my undergraduate degree. An Environmental Geography student, I was enrolled in my university’s Co-op education program, looking for typical environmental work (think environmental monitoring, GIS). In late spring, worried I would spend the summer with no job at all, I took a job as a Curatorial Assistant working with the collection and exhibition at the University of Victoria Art Collections. I loved everything about it, from the work (centering around another collections audit but also involving curation), exhibition design and installation, to interacting with artists. My tasks were creative, stimulating, and I believed deeply in the importance of it all. Thanks to that experience I went on to work as a Summer Museum Interpreter at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and with my Environmental Geography degree in hand I began an education in the Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto this summer.

Collections work is meaningful for everyone who interacts with a museum: visitors, artists, staff, researchers, you name it! The objects carry a multiplicity of stories, meanings, and geographies. To be entrusted with working directly with them is immediately inspiring and endlessly fascinating. The collections at MIA are, for me, are particularly important because they are voices from one of the most rapidly changing places on the planet. Furthermore they are cared for and presented by a small institution with a small staff, and it’s often these places that mean the most for particular communities. I was very fortunate to visit the Canadian Arctic during a youth-based research voyage studying climate change and art. The collections at MIA remind me of that time and of that place, and also add new layers to that experience. For these reasons and so many more I am very much looking forward to my time at MIA!

Posted by: Lily Jackson, MIA’s Collections Management Volunteer

Meet Our Collections Team! Introducing Leah C.

24 Sep
Leah C., MIA Collections Management Volunteer, examines a recently donated drawing for the museums permanent collection.

Leah C., MIA’s Collections Management Volunteer, examines a recently donated drawing for the museums permanent collection.

Continuing our series on our collections audit the museum is undertaking, this week features guest posts from members of the collections team. 

If you are the kind of person who sits down now and then to spend hours updating your iTunes playlist, making sure you have exactly the right album art, band name spelling and track listings for your ultimate playlist then you might have some idea of the what it takes to undertake a collections audit. Each piece in a museum’s collections must be documented and accounted for and this fall I am going to be joining the MIA team as they undertake this project.

So how did I come to join this team and what drew me to museum work in the first place? I spent my formative years visiting every living history museum, gallery and road side historic plaques from Kingston to St. Johns with my family. Those road trips gave me my first taste of what museums had to offer and my interest in the field grew until I had the opportunity in high school to suit up in the blisteringly hot woolly uniform of a British artillery soldier and become a historical interpreter at Fort Henry. Since then I have had the chance to work with the Peterborough Museum and Archives and this past summer I completed an internship in the CBC’s Libraries and Archives working closely with their still photographs collection.

I feel that interacting with a museum artifact is an experience that is completely unique to these kinds of institutions. Working in collections management gives me the chance to do hands-on work with the artifacts that shape each museum visit.  As you might have guessed the collection you see displayed at a museum is only a fraction of what that museum holds and getting the chance to peek behind the curtain to see what else might be waiting in quiet storage rooms and vaults is very exciting to me.  There is something special about getting to know each and every piece, its history and its place in our collection and I can’t wait to find out more as this project moves forward.

So far one of my favourite pieces to accession and catalogue are these two drawings:


Germaine Arnaktauyok (1946-), “Untitled” (Drum Dancer) c. 1973, Iglulik, paper and felt tip marker, MIA Collection Gift of Mary and James Robert Moorehead.


Germaine Arnaktauyok (1946-), “Untitled” (A Woman With A Bucket of Water) c. 1973, Iglulik, paper and felt tip marker, MIA Collection Gift of Mary and James Robert Moorehead.

The contrast between the black ink and white paper is really striking, and I can’t stop focusing in on the cross hatch technique the artist used. I hope to come across more by this artist as the project continues!

– Posted by: Leah Cox., MIA’s Collections Management Volunteer