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Tsimshian Treasures: The remarkable journey of the Dundas Collection


  • Medium: hardcover
  • Size: 11.75 × 10.25 inches, 144 pages
  • Reference Code: DM2007-01


Published to coincide with a major national exhibition tour, this stunning book celebrates the remarkable return of 36 masterpieces of Tsimshian art collected in northern British Columbia more than 140 years ago.

In October 1863, Reverend Robert J. Dundas of Scotland purchased 80 “ceremonial objects” that lay missionary William Duncan had acquired from the Natives gathered at Old Metlakatla (near Prince Rupert). The collection, which included carved clubs, masks, rattles and headdresses, remained in the Dundas family until October 2006, when it was put on the block at auction in New York.

This last-known privately owned field collection set a record for First Nations art sold at auction — more than US$7 million. Three dozen of the most spectacular artifacts were purchased by Canadian institutions and individuals, including a rare Tsimshian portrait mask that sold for an unprecedented $1.8 million. Other highly prized items include wood bowls and a richly decorated wood food dish.

This sumptuous book features 72 full-colour plates and several dozen photos of the ceremonies that accompanied the collection’s arrival in Prince Rupert, as well as essays by Donald Ellis, Steven Clay Brown, Alan L. Hoover, Sarah Milroy, Bill Holm and William White. All honour an extraordinary moment in Canadian cultural history and the triumphant return of these masterworks of Northwest Coast art after more than a century in exile.

Steven Clay Brown

Steven Clay Brown is a former curator of Native American art at the Seattle Art Museum who has written five books on Northwest Coast art, as well as articles and essays for many other publications.

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Spirit Wrestler Gallery

47 Water Street
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6B 1A1

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Phone: 604-669-8813


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