The University of British Columbia has announced the gift of a collection of Northwest Coast art valued at $1.1 million from the estate of Margaret "Marmie" Perkins Hess, who died in 2016 at the age of 100.
Hess, whose collection of metalwork, carved masks, weavings, totem poles, and other items has been bequeathed to the university's Museum of Anthropology, operated Spencer Creek Ranch near Calgary for most of her life and was an avid art collector who also counted members of the Group of Seven among her friends. During travels to B.C. and Nunavut, she became enamored of indigenous art and over many years developed strong relationships with indigenous artists. In 1970, she founded Calgary Galleries to showcase indigenous art for a wider audience.
The donation expands MOA's collection of work by Bill Reid, including rarely seen items such as masks, a gold brooch, a silver box, and an argillite figure that he created early in his career, as well as carvings by Henry Hunt that will significantly enhance the museum's collection of his work.
"We are thrilled to add this diverse collection to MOA," said Karen Duffek, curator of contemporary visual arts and Pacific Northwest at MOA. "These pieces tell an important story about Indigenous art in the twentieth century, highlighting a period when the artists played pivotal roles in the resurgence of Northwest Coast art practices."