On February 5, 2019, the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau Quebec announced the major donation of over 750 contemporary sculptures, 120 works on paper and 25 examples of historical material from the estate of Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess. The works span first and second-generation artists from the 1950s through 1980s from almost 30 communities across Inuit Nunangat, including works by Madeleine Isserkrut Kringayark (1928–1984), Mary Inukpuk, Paniluk Qamanirq, Peggy Ekagina (1919–1993), Rachel Shoapik and Agnes Nulluq Iqqugaqtuq, among many others.
“We are honoured and thankful that Dr. Hess chose to bequeath a portion of her remarkable collection of Inuit art to the Canadian Museum of History, who will cherish this legacy for generations to come,” Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History said.
Born in 1916 in Calgary, AB, Perkins Hess was an internationally recognized art historian, lecturer, philanthropist, business person and rancher. After studying in Toronto, ON in the 1930s, she taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Alberta Provincial Institute. After travelling extensively across norther Canada in the 1950s, she opened Gallery Ltd. in Calgary in 1970 as a platform dedicated to promoting Indigenous art. She was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and an Officer in 1993. She was also named a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and received of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal along with two honorary doctorates from the University of Lethbridge as well as the University of Calgary and University of Alberta. Hess passed away on September 2, 2016.
“[Hess] was a great supporter of Canadian culture and a champion of Indigenous artists. Her commitment to the North and to its people resulted in a collection of exceptional breadth and quality that we look forward to sharing with new audiences,” O’Neill continued.
This significant gift to the Canadian Museum of History follows other major donations of over 1000 works to the University of Lethbridge in 2017 and a selection of Northwest Coast jewellery and artwork to the Museum of Anthropology in 2018.