Ahead of Her Time

November 23, 2018
Sculpture of a person hunting a narwhal by kayak

Untitled (Closing in on a Narwhal)
Madeleine Isserkrut Kringayark, 1974

Over the course of her 100 years, Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Hess did plenty of things most people only dream of — she established a successful art gallery in her Calgary hometown, drove A. Y. Jackson to southern Alberta locations to paint, and accumulated an enormous collection of Canadian art. She shared this collection, not just with her fellow Albertans, but with all Canadians: she has generously bequeathed part of her Inuit collection — close to a thousand objects — to the Canadian Museum of History.

The collection is remarkable. Drawn from a wide swath of Inuit communities and regions, the works were produced by first- and second-generation artists from the early 1950s to the 1980s. An educator and artist by training, Dr. Hess kept meticulous records, allowing scholars to study Inuit artistic trends across region, gender and time.

Did You Know?
The collection contains 753 sculptures, 72 prints, 52 drawings, 25 ethnographic objects and 1 painting. It represents 32 communities across the Canadian Arctic.

“Dr. Hess was ahead of her time, and championed Indigenous artists. She was always thinking of the future. This donation demonstrates her commitment to Canadians, to our country and to our Museum,” says Jean-Marc Blais, Director General of the Museum of History. “Her legacy will be cherished for generations to come.”