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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Welcome to Anthropology 395!

The acquisition of a collection of Aboriginal children's art from across Canada by the Maltwood Art Gallery and Museum at the University of Victoria, coupled with the creative ingenuity of Dr. Andrea Walsh, in the Department of Anthropology, Caroline Riedel, Curator of Collections at the Maltwood, and Martin Segger, Director of the Maltwood Gallery, the hands-on field school Museum Collections and Exhibition Techniques was created. This course offers students the opportunity to build all sorts of museum-based skills while thoroughly engaged in the management, organization, and development of an actual exhibition.

Day one was an introduction to the course and the collection, of which 110 works of Aboriginal children's art are the central focus for the students. The collection exists because of an artist and art teacher, Robert Aller, who documented and collected these drawings from his art classes on reserves across Canada. Aller's work was certainly not limited to teaching children's art, though this element of his extensive résumé will be the focus of this class. Martin Segger joined us to talk a bit about Aller, who he knew as a personal acquaintance, to enlighten us on Aller's artistic philosophy, his teaching, and his personal and professional history.

Caroline Riedel joined us afterward to explain the tedious but necessary processes involved in organizing and documenting the entire collection, which the class jumped right into on the second day.

Day two, students are occupied with the children's drawings - filling out accession forms and condition reports for each work of art.

A disorganized box full of photographs were sorted through and those depicting the combination of a child (or children) with a work of art (or works of art) were pulled out and placed up on the wall. The goal is to try to match some of these paintings with the artists who created them, and try to contact them and their family members today.

A few matches were made - but the work of documentation and organization continues!


  1. This is great to see happening. Robert Aller would be very pleased!

    Gaile Sullivan, great niece and co-executor of Robert Aller's estate.

    PS I hope to visit your class tomorrow, July 20th.

  2. Being the nephew of Robert Carl Aller it is great to see his life works recognized as part of a course curriculum at UVic in addition to having some of his works on display. I believe his artwork to be a true part of Canadianna due to the love he had for our First Nations people and the passion he had for his work.

    For those who may be interested Robert Aller's life was encapsulated in a book written by Anne Pley and called "The Man Who Speaks With Wolves".