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From Alert Bay to Dresden: The Art of Giving

Tram ad for the Exhibition collaboration between the U'mista Cultural Centre and the Dresden State Art Collections. Image courtesy of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Supported by the BC Arts Council

An intercultural exchange is underway, highlighting collections from a major European museum and the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay.

Some 67 ceremonial objects -- including masks, rattles other pieces of Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation art – are on display at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, part of the world-renowned Staatliche Kunstammlungen cultural institution of Dresden, Germany.

Meanwhile, visitors to the U'mista Cultural Centre can see more than sixty items from the Staatliche Kunstammlungen’s collections, including rare porcelains and ceremonial weaponry, such as a gold and emerald-encrusted sword, commissioned by the Saxon royal family and dating back to the 17th century.

The project explores the theme of the relationship between power and gift giving.

Cormorant Island’s U’mista Cultural Centre is in one of the most respected First Nations cultural centres in Canada. Founded in 1980, its primary objective is to provide a permanent home for repatriated artefacts confiscated when the Canadian government outlawed potlatch ceremonies ninety years ago.

The exhibit was partially funded by the BC Arts Council, and runs until the end of August.