An exhibit featuring contemporary Inuit art titled “Cape Dorset and Beyond: Inuit Art from the Marcia and Robert Ellis Collection” opened yesterday at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. 
The exhibit is part of a larger effort by the museum to redefine itself as more than a purely historical center. 

“People tend to think of [the museum] in a historical sense, but we really try to communicate what contemporary life is like in the arctic, and of course, contemporary artists are one way to do that,” said Arctic Museum Curator Genevieve LeMoine. “The art frequently goes back to traditional times, but there’s often modernity in it as well.”

LeMoine added that the exhibit is “a way to introduce the modern northern world to southerners.”

The exhibit is organized thematically by subject. It includes work by Barnabus Arnasungaaq and David Ruben Piqtoukun, both well known contemporary Inuit artists. 

Much of the art is rooted in Inuit mythology—for example, a carving of the Inuit sea godess Sedna.

“The pieces are so nice. There’s lots just to look at and enjoy. They’re accessible in that sense… They’re beautiful, elegant, interesting,” said LeMoine. 

The pieces themselves cover a range of themes, touching on spirituality and humans’ connection to nature. All the pieces are of either Canadian or Alaskan origin. 

“It’s very interesting that, although we have other collections from other collectors of Inuit art...there are very different types of pieces,” LeMoine said.

LeMoine anticipates that the exhibit will be unexpected as well as informative. 

“In Maine there are not a lot of people who are familiar with Inuit art,” she said. “I think they might be surprised at how much variety there is in it, the different choices people make when deciding what they want to have in their home.”

The exhibit opened yesterday with a talk from Arctic Museum director Susan Kaplan, titled “What’s in Your Closet of Curiosities?”