Published March 7, 2020


March 05 – 07, 2020
Joseph Green Theatre
Centre for Film and Theatre, York University
Toronto ON

Join the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, as we present a three day Think Tank — Reconciling Institutional Practice.  This Think Tank will bring together Indigenous and some non-Indigenous arts professionals and artists from across Canada to participate in a dialogue that addresses issues of colonialism and reconciliation in art galleries and museums today.  This event is held at York University with support from the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) and Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH).

Colonization is still implicated in the history and structures of all major art institutions in Canada as most contemporary art institutions began with the private collections of wealthy European settlers whose fortunes were based largely on the seizure of Indigenous resources, land, and people. Galleries and art museums collections, mandates, and exhibitions are still ingrained with these histories. This Think Tank be a space and framework for the conversation on how art galleries, museums, and art institutions in Ontario can address reconciling their collections, exhibitions, and educational programming within this historical context. Institutions will explore their evolving responsibility to change the narrative around the housing, treatment, and presentation of Indigenous artworks in the gallery through guided, peer-to-peer discussions. These discussions will begin the process of nurturing a culture of care, with an emphasis on strengthening one-on-one relationships with Indigenous artists and their communities.

DAY 1: Reconciling Your Institution’s Acquisitions and Collections

Galleries and museums are mandated to preserve and maintain artworks in their collections. Institutions are responsible for the storage and preservation of not only physical objects but the history connected. The standards for the collection management, conservation and record keeping have been structures out of colonial policies and institutions. Can this standard be applicable to non-colonial artworks, and should they be? This workshop will address these issues with sessions discussing the ethics of acquiring Indigenous art, the storage of Indigenous art, the sacredness and cultural significance of objects, and the importance of repatriating work in their collection.

DAY 2: Presentation Matters: The Importance of Exhibition and Display in the Reconciliation Process

Exhibitions are critical in how the public views and interprets artworks, artists, and historical information. They are where the art meets the audience. Institutions develop exhibitions with good intentions; but at times, they can be unintentionally hurtful or problematic. As colonially founded institutions, can contemporary galleries truly accurately display and tell the story of Indigenous artists and their work? This workshop, the second of a three-part series, will examine the current display and exhibition practices for Indigenous works.

DAY 3: Collections Pedagogy: From Practice to Protocol

This workshop acknowledges the entangled relationships of collecting and display practices to pedagogy. While the act of collecting and exhibiting as practices can be considered pedagogical in and of themselves, this workshop looks at the role of education, animation, and the didactic framing of Indigenous art works. How can we rethink our current animation strategies that teach from authoritative points of view? How can our education programming enforce shared pedagogical learning through Indigenous works without it having to fall back on settlers learning about Indigenous history. How do we get past the settler-colonial lense of education and what role can the contemporary art gallery play in this trajectory?


Speakers over the three days include: Susan Blight, Quill Violet Christie-Peters, Aylan Couchie, Patricia Deadman, Karen Duffek, Sameer Farooq, Michelle LaVallee, Lee Maracle, Lisa Myers, Alexandra Nahwegahbow, Archer Pechawis, Jocelyn Piirainen, Tania Willard, and more to be announced.

This program is supported by the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) and Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH).  OAAG also gratefully acknowledges the funding contribution from the Museums Assistance Program with the Department of Canadian Heritage.