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Recent donation expands museum’s Nature Art collection

Graham Larose © Canadian Museum of Nature.

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Chantal Dussault, the museum's head of library and archives, says Sue Coleman’s prints fit the collection because of their representation of Canadian species. 

By Graham Larose, June 22, 2017

When Ron Gould decided to downsize his art collection and came across his set of prints of Sue Coleman’s artwork, he contacted the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN), rather than the National Gallery.

“I felt that the link to native Canadian species of birds and mammals made the Museum of Nature the ideal home for them,” said Gould.

Gould has been collecting art since 1956 and has donated art to all of Ottawa’s national museums except for the Canada Museum of Science and Technology. His most recent donation to the CMN is a collection of 17 limited-edition prints of artwork by B.C. artist Sue Coleman.

Chantal Dussault, head of library and archives at the Museum of Nature, thought that the translation of Native American art in Coleman’s paintings would complement the museum’s already extensive art collection.

“These works represent Canadian animals and is a valuable addition to the collection,” said Dussault. “Some of arctic mammals are also represented, and this supports the museum’s mission to bring a focus on the Arctic more and more.”

The donation now becomes part of the museum’s Nature Art collection. All told, there are 2,356 items, including paintings, tapestries, sculptures, photographs and also items such as duck decoys and ceramic mushrooms.

Although Mr. Gould has worked with over 70 countries in his time as Assistant Chief Electoral Officer at Elections Canada, Native American art has always been dominant in his art collection.

“I happened to see Coleman’s work and I was really impressed with the prints she was doing with Canadian animals and injecting the Haida influence,” he said. “I started with a few and eventually collected a lot of her work.”

Growing up in the United Kingdom, Coleman says that her career in art may not have happened without her decision to move to Canada in her early twenties.

“I had not the foggiest idea of what I was coming to in Canada,” she said. “When I saw the mountains, I decided before the plane even landed that I could stay.”

Now, decades later, a keen collector of her art has ensured that some of her work will be curated for years to come in Canada’s national museum of natural history.

The art will now be available for loans (subject to conservation criteria to ensure preservation) or for potential display by the museum at an event or in an exhibit.

Interested in making a donation to the museum’s collections or to support the Nature Art program? Contact Laura Evans, Director of Advancement, levans@mus-nature.ca.