SFU receives landmark gift of Bill Reid art

Published on September 15, 2011

The Bill Reid Foundation has gifted its entire collection of Northwest Coast art, worth more than $10 million and consisting of 158 works (including 112 masterworks by Bill Reid) to Simon Fraser University.

In return, SFU will contract the Bill Reid Foundation to continue to manage the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, located on Hornby Street in downtown Vancouver.

A further $1-million donation from arts philanthropist Michael Audain will sustain the gallery and enhance programming in Northwest Coast art studies.

Mike Robinson, CEO of the Bill Reid Trust and president of the Bill Reid Foundation, is excited about what this partnership will bring to the community.

“With assurance that the entire collection will remain intact and available to the public, we have the freedom to ramp up the delivery of new shows and develop more curatorial ideas,” says Robinson. “A similar arrangement has been in place at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum for 45 years, and today it is one of the most creative cultural learning institutions in Canada.”

SFU president Andrew Petter says the gift and resulting partnership will support SFU’s emerging reputation for being Canada’s most community-engaged research university.

“This important collection will enhance SFU’s role in preserving and enriching culture and arts in this region,” says Petter. “It will also allow the university to expand Northwest Coast art studies, thereby broadening public understanding of the history and culture of B.C.’s Aboriginal communities.”

According to David Gillanders, chair of the Bill Reid Foundation, a group of local philanthropists – led by Audain, Milton Wong, and Mary Margaret Young – joined together 12 years ago to ensure this important collection was kept intact in trust for the people of British Columbia.

“Today,” says Gillanders, “we can all be proud that our original actions have resulted in a permanent legacy of cultural wealth for our community.”