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Haida: Life. Spirit. Art. flies to Greece
Chest, 1900-1925 Thomas Moody (about 1877-1947) © McCord Museum, M5922.1-2. Photo: Marilyn Aitken.

GATINEAU.- The Canadian Museum of History and the McCord Museum in Montréal announced that the travelling exhibition Haida: Life. Spirit. Art. is presented in Greece, at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, from October 26, 2015 to April 20, 2016.

The exhibition will introduce audiences in Greece to the remarkable sophistication and complexity of the Haida culture of Canada’s Pacific Northwest Coast. The exhibition features an outstanding collection of historical and contemporary artworks from the Museum of History and the McCord Museum. It also includes contemporary works and images from Haida Gwaii, the island homeland of the Haida people — part of the rich collection of the Haida Gwaii Museum in Skidegate, British Columbia.

“While our visitors will marvel at exquisite treasures drawn from the collections of 21 Greek museums, visitors to the Archaelogical Museum of Thessaloniki will have the opportunity to experience our country’s rich history in their own community,” explained Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Canadian Museum of History. “We are proud to present them with an exhibition that will enhance their understanding of the rich and enduring cultures of our First Peoples.”

Most of the objects in the exhibition date from the 18th and 19th centuries. They reflect the great skill of Haida artists and the richness of their ancient culture. The artifacts range from intricate bentwood boxes to a beautifully painted woven hat; from carved fish hooks to model totem poles. They provide fascinating insights into a culture that took root thousands of years ago in Haida Gwaii and remains vibrant today along Canada’s Northwest Coast.

The travelling exhibition Haida: Life. Spirit. Art. is produced by the Canadian Museum of History and the McCord Museum in collaboration with the Haida Gwaii Museum.

“We are very pleased to be associated with the Canadian Museum of History in producing this travelling exhibition and bringing our extraordinary collection to Greece,” said Suzanne Sauvage, President and CEO of the McCord Museum, one of the most important history museums in Canada. “We want to thank the Canadian Museum of History for this initiative, and the Haida Gwaii Museum for its invaluable participation, which will ensure the project is a success.”

“This exhibition will focus international attention on the ancient and enduring culture of the Haida and their incomparable and beautiful homeland, Haida Gwaii — a place that has inspired Haida artists for thousands of years and continues to produce some of Canada’s most talented artists today,” said Scott Marsden, Executive Director of the Haida Gwaii Museum. “We’re proud to be a partner in this important initiative.”

“On behalf of the government and people of Greece, I thank the partner museums and the Haida people for their generous loan of these masterpieces, which illuminate a culture of great beauty, mystery and complexity,” said Dr. Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, Alternate General Secretary to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs. Dr. Andreadaki-Vlazaki played a key role in the Canadian Museum of History’s current presentation of The Greeks – Agamemnon to Alexander the Great. “This exchange of exhibitions between Canada and Greece testifies to our close friendship and provides a wonderful opportunity for enhanced understanding and mutual respect.”

“As Canadians celebrate the presence of The Greeks – Agamemnon to Alexander the Great in the National Capital Region, the northern city of Thessaloniki will experience — this fall — the beauty and uniqueness of the Haida culture for the first time in Greece,” said Robert Peck, Ambassador of Canada to the Hellenic Republic. “This exchange of landmark exhibitions between Canada and Greece underscores the enduring friendship between the two countries, which will celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations in 2017.”

The exhibition, which debuted at the McCord Museum, was developed with the guidance and insight of renowned Haida artist Robert Davidson, and also features some of his works. Davidson has described art as the Haida’s only written language, a language that preserves ancient customs and beliefs and keeps the Haida spirit alive.

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