A permanent exhibition project I have been working on since 2012 is finally coming into fruition. The first part of the Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall exhibition will open on August 3, 2018 and is dedicated to the generations of Survivors who attended Indian Residential Schools across the country.
Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall was developed and led by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. It has been a Survivor-driven reclamation of the former Shingwauk Indian Residential School and is a Healing and Reconciliation through Education initiative. It will be housed on the third floor of Shingwauk Hall, a former residential school building that is now houses Algoma University.
This opening of August 3rd will include three distinct gallery spaces:
We are all Children of Shingwauk Gallery: This space witnesses the comings and goings of hundreds of Indigenous children from communities near and far. It features photos and stories of some of the earliest students of the Shingwauk school in its industrial phases, contemporary portraits and testimonies of Survivors, and ‘selfies’ of current Algoma and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig students. Here, visitors will see how entire families were connected to the Shingwauk site and learn about the remarkable ongoing healing work that has taken place.
Life at the Shingwauk Home: an Indian Residential School Gallery: This gallery illustrates how a scattering of modest buildings on 90.5 acres of land acquired in 1874 for ‘Indian Education’ became an ever-expanding industrial school complex and home to hundreds of Indigenous children. It charts the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Schools’ transition from industrial to residential school through photographs, offering a glimpse of the day-to-day existence of children over the years of the schools’ operation.
From Teaching Wigwam to Residential School Gallery: This final gallery recounts the story of Chief Shingwauk and his vision to create ‘Teaching Wigwams’ as a means of sustaining Anishinaabe self-determination. This historical gallery, which begins in the late 1700s, traces the history of the first iterations of the teaching wigwam through the absorption of the Shingwauk Home into the Canada-wide Indian Residential School System.
I am tremendously happy to see this project come together and humbled to be a part of such inspiring and important work.
The Walters Art Museum in Balitmore was a short walk from the NCPH conference hotel and was free, so I made an effort to take a walk over there one evening. The building itself is architecturally beautiful and the museum is well know for it’s collection of European artwork. The material on display during my visit included a lot of religious artwork, European and Asian, artwork, as well as design artwork.
There were two exhibits that I found particularly interesting at the Walters. The first was the From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story exhibition which highlights the role of the Walters family in amassing the core art collection of the Museum. The exhibition was an interesting mixture of family photographs, artwork of numerous mediums, and explanations of the how the Walters family obtained certain items. I particularly liked the emphasis on how the collection developed – we often don’t think about the donors behind museum items but their history is crucial to understanding the provenance of items and creating a complete narrative. The artwork in this exhibition was largely European with some interesting textile works, but for me it took second place to the historical family narrative of the exhibition.
The second exhibition that I really enjoyed at the Walters was the Madame de Pompadour, Patron and Printmaker exhibition. Okay, I admit the first thought I had when I saw Madame de Pompadour’s name was about the “Girl in the Fireplace” episode of Doctor Who. Once I got over that particular train of thought, I really enjoyed the selections from Madame de Pompadour Suite of Prints which were featured in this exhibition. The Suite of Prints first edition held by the Walters includes a set of etchings created by the royal mistress in the 1750s. Fewer than 20 of these suites were made overall and the Walters has the only full remaining copy, which was also Madame de Pompadour’s personal copy.
The exhibition included etchings created by Pompadour of gems that were carved by Jacques Guay. These gems included carved images of French culture and portraits of royalty. I found the explanation of how etchings were created from the gems, the print making process, and the preservation of carvings in gems particularly interesting. The etchings were complimented by additional items that reflected Pompadour’s wider interest in arts including paintings, tapestries, and porcelains.
I really enjoyed my evening at the Walters and would recommend it to anyone visiting Baltimore who is interested in art, history, and culture more broadly.