On 1 July 1867 – this year 150 years ago – the North American colonies of Great Britain were united. The four founding provinces officially became the Dominion of Canada. The Museum Volkenkunde (ethnology) in Leiden, The Netherlands, celebrates this with a special gallery exhibition about the Inuit: Canadese Inuit Kunst (Canadian Inuit Art), on display from 11 March 2017 to 7 January 2008. The exhibition was opened on 10 March 2017 in presence of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and her husband Prof. mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven.
Recently the Dutch collector Hans van Berkel, who has been collecting Inuit art since 1973, donated his collection to the museum. The exhibition shows the best pieces, including statues made of soapstone, graphical art and items used in daily Inuit life. Exceptionally also Princess Margriet and Pieter van Vollenhoven have lend a part of their private collection of Inuit art for the exhibition.
Princess Margriet was born in Canada in 1943 and the connection with the country has always remained. In the years 1970 and 1979 the couple travelled to the north of Canada to meet Inuits and they made an unforgettable trip by sleigh. They still visit the country regularly. The collection has a prominent place in their house. As Princess Margriet says: “So we can watch it every day. But we also are pleased to give it on loan to this museum, so that others can enjoy it too.” Always nice to learn something new about royals. I for example knew they had travelled to Canada, and remember a report in an old Vorsten magazine. However I had no idea that they collect Inuit art.