MMFA asking for public's help in finding missing totem pole hand
Support pouring in after museum staff posted about missing hand Saturday
The borrowed totem pole that stands in front of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has been damaged.
Overnight between Sept. 19 and 20, the left hand on the artwork was stolen from its home on Sherbrooke Street, the museum says.
"We are appealing to the public to help us retrieve it," says a post on the MMFA's Instagram account.
The piece has been on loan to the museum since 2017. It's titled Residential School Totem Pole, and was created by artist Charles Joseph.
Joseph is from Kwakiutl First Nation on Canada's West Coast. He is a residential school survivor.
"This is my reconciliation, and my story is on the pole," Joseph said of the piece on the MMFA website.
Museum staff noticed the hand was missing last week, and posted to social media Saturday to get help from the public to find it.
"We want to be sure that, if somebody sees that hand, they realize that it's part of an artwork and that it's important to give it back to us," said Pascale Chassé, communications director for the MMFA.
She said that so far they haven't received any new information about the hand's whereabouts, but they have received messages of support since posting about it on social media.
"People are like us — very disappointed of that lack of respect," Chassé said.
Although there are many sculptures outside the museum, the totem is especially important because it addresses Canada's history of residential schools, Chassé said.
Joseph and the totem pole's current owner, who loaned it to the MMFA, are aware about the damage and are hopeful that the original hand will be found.
But if it is not found, Chassé said, the museum will ask the artist to make a replacement hand for the totem pole.