Canadians will have one less place to learn about Inuit art, as Toronto's Canadian Museum of Inuit Art (MIA) is closing its doors on May 30.
The small harbourfront gallery doesn't have the money to keep going, so its board of directors decided that it's time to close shop.
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"It is disappointing that this happened," said Brittany Holliss the Manager of Operations.
"I think all staff here really are passionate and dedicated to providing exhibitions and programs for the public about Inuit art, so it's kind of a shock for us," added Holliss.
"MIA was a cooperative effort to provide Canadians with access to the art of the Inuit," said Gordon Fox, board chair of the museum.
"Although saddened by the events that have overtaken us we are extremely proud of our accomplishments," added Fox.
The museum which is dedicated to modern Inuit art has been open to the public for nine years.
In the past few summers due to the construction in the waterfront that rerouted the streetcar and closed the walkway, the museum has seen a decline in visitors said Holliss.
Inuit art in search of new home
"A lot of people might think of us as a small museum, we're small but mighty," said Holliss.
Despite its boutique size the museum owns approximately 1,000 pieces many of which are given out to other institutions or lent out for research purposes.
The museum conducts educational workshops and has pieces on hand to help teach the public about Inuit art. Those include items created with stone, sealskin, caribou antler, as well as textiles and prints.
"It allows members of the public to really engage with it — feel the different stone textures and weights and see the different material that are used in the art production," said Holliss.
Notable exhibitions at the museum included Kananginak Pootoogook: Celebrating Five Decades of Artistic Achievement (February – May 2010), The Art of Play (August — November 2013) and the recent Beyond Aurora Borealis: Abraham Anghik Ruben, which opened in November 2015 and will be on display until the museum closes next month.
With the museum closing, staff are searching for a new home for the collection.
"We want to see this collection go to an appropriate home, a cultural institution or an Inuit organization that can pick up where our mission left off," said Holliss.
The staff hopes that these pieces can be given to an organization that will continue to provide educational opportunities for the public to engage with the collection.
Although MIA will no longer be there, Holliss said there are many other places in Toronto for people interested in Inuit art. The Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection are a few of the institutions in the greater Toronto area with sizeable Inuit art collections.