La Guilde opened its archives in the 1990s in response to the formative role it played in the preservation and encouragement of Canada’s artistic heritage.
In 1909, the compilation of archives served initially as a reference library; they contained documentation on many lost skills, traditions and practical or educational information on the Arts and Crafts of Canada. Over its impressive history, La Guilde has built an enormous body of knowledge that details its own social history, the evolution of Craft in Canada and the art of Inuit and First Nations Peoples.
Acquired over the last century and even earlier, La Guilde collected historic and contemporary Crafts made by Canadians, recovered disappearing arts and heeded its founding mission to prevent the loss and extinction of artistic skills, and the deterioration of crafts.
The historical importance and composition of its Collection reflect the concept underlying the Collection’s evolution. The original idea behind La Guilde's permanent collection, initiated in 1909, was to provide high quality examples for the preservation and teaching of craft. In the 1930s, La Guilde played a leading role in the preservation of Native crafts and its long tradition of engagement with the North brought Inuit art to a worldwide audience in 1949 with the first exhibition of its kind. La Guilde's groundbreaking work in the revival of Crafts, in protecting against their assimilation, and countering the threat of debased artisan skills caused by cheap commercialization, has provided us with one of the most distinguished collections of its kind.
La Guilde has been collecting Inuit art since the early 1900s and a part of this collection along with that of the First Nations can be seen in our Gallery, the remainder of which is authenticated, indexed and carefully stored in our reserve. A major part of the collection on display is comprised of Inuit art created between 1950 and 1965 from the communities of Povungnituk, Inukjuak, and Cape Dorset.
Covering a vast geographic range, diverse media, a considerable time span and social history, La Guilde's collection includes more than 1000 works of art.
top to bottom: Hunter, after 1950. Steatite | Box, 20th century. Birch bark (Betula papyrifera), porcupine quills (Erethizon dorsatum), spruce root (Picea), commercial dye | Miniature sleigh. Wood, leather, hair, tin, paint. Photo: Louis-Charles Dumais & Clara Lacasse-Paloma Daris
Our documentation centre gathers reference books and magazines on fine crafts, Inuit art and First Nations art; some of them date back to the 19th century.
It's not possible to consult our archives and documentation centre for this moment due to restructuring purposes.