The Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection is renowned for its cultural, social and artistic value. With over 1600+ works of art, the Gallery began collecting works in 1982. To date, the collection’s significance has rested on contemporary First Nations art, as one of the few in Canada to maintain this specific focus. The collection includes traditional and innovative forms from argillite to installations by established, and emerging artists. While we attend to contemporary expressions we have also been mindful to acquire some artifacts that speak to continuity and preservation of skill traditions in such media as wood, sweet grass, bone, horn, clay, silver and leather. Items of domesticity, apparel and adornment pertinent to Aboriginal customs are included. The intent is to develop the capacity to reflect fully the variety, integrity and diversity of work by contemporary Aboriginal artists across the country.
Artists such as Roy Thomas, Carl Beam, Daphne Odjig, Edward Poitras, Jane Ash Poitras, Greg Staats, Robert Houle, Jim Logan, Joane Cardinal Schubert, Norval Morrisseau, Arthur Shilling, Shelley Niro, Allen Sapp, Rick Rivet, and Bob Boyer are all represented. Our holdings of 54 prints, paintings and drawings by the late Benjamin Chee Chee are exemplary. Notable acquisitions included works from Christian Chapman and the late Roy Thomas for our collection. Major works by established artists are sought and acquired through purchase, commission, and donation. The Canada Council Acquisition Assistance Program matched by funds from private donors often makes these purchases possible.