media release

SFU receives landmark gift of Bill Reid art

September 15, 2011

Erica Branda, SFU Advancement, 778.782.3353,
Mike Robinson, Bill Reid Gallery, 604.682.3455,
Dixon Tam, SFU PAMR, 778.782.8742, 604.417.0881 (cell),

Related links:
About Bill Reid
Bill Reid Gallery Facts
About Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast art

Gallery Exterior
Photos on Flickr

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.”


I'm so disappointed with the Bill Reid Foundation to gift the entire Bill Reid collection to SFU. Why? I wonder what Bill Reid would say? Bill Reid had a long time relationship with UBC. From his early carving days at Totem Park, UBC in the late 1950's to his masterpiece "The Raven and the First Men" at MOA. So many of Bill's works of art are contained within the MOA building. I believe Bill Reid's spirit is ever present in the MOA building along with among the Ninstints Poles of Anthony Island. Bill Reid had his own key to MOA building, which enabled him to enter this building night or day. He loved the space that MOA provided him. So many of Bill Reid's friends were UBC personalities like Wison Duff, the Hawthorns,the Shadbolts, Arthur Erickson and so many others. Did Martine Reid approve of this decision? Did George Macdonald give this arrangement his blessing? I'm truly sadden and disappointed that Bill Reid's spirit has been hijacked by SFU. Politics? UBC will always holds a special place for Bill Reid.
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I DO NOT THINK IT IS A HIJACK. even not a little. You have no right for saying that. Aboriginal culture belongs to everyone, it is a treasure of global. You asked "why"? I want to ask you "why not"?!
What Bill Reid would say? Ok, I can tell you he will be happy to see this if he is alive, he will be happy to see that his masterpieces can be gifted to SFU and let more students to access to this art, not only in UBC campus. Bill Reid's spirit is not only presented in MOA building, his spirit is presented in the whole world. Of course, MOA building is a fantastic place, it is amazing and it is gorgeous. I have been there one time, I like that place. Even though, it is ridiculous for saying that all his artwork should be put into MOA building, it is not valid.
Second, not just UBC has aboriginal student and Bill Reid's friends, SFU has the aboriginal club and the people who interest in and want to study aboriginal art. So again WHY should not Bill Reid Foundation gift the collection to SFU.
In addition, I think whatever the decision made by Bill Reid Foundation, all person relate to this foundation and the relatives of Bill Reid family are told, and also, all person have agreed. The decision of gifting these masterpieces is not a decision of what coffee should we buy, it is a decision weight too much, everyone took it seriously.
That is all I want to say, so if you can see this, if you go back to this webpage, i want you to rethink what you have said and i hope you know what is the meaning of art.
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This is a wonderful example of the amazing value created when community engagement, citizenship, philanthropy and creativity come together. Congratulations to Michael, Milt, David, SFU and the Bill Reid Foundation. It is a wonderful collection, in a wonderful location....and, what a fine and exciting complement to SFU's incredible downtown campus! Wow! Bravo Zulu...
Darcy Rezac
Ana Pacific Consulting
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Everyone should send all their $20 bills to UBC! How dare they have Bill Reid's art. Did the government even consult UBC?
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The argument as to whether this fantastic collection ought to go to UBC or SFU is spurious. It is going to the people of this nation, the citizens of B.C. and to the human race! What counts is that it is not ending up in the boardrooms of some fat cats or shipped off and out of Canada never to be seen again. This is great news for all of us. There is so much art created in Canada and sadly, much of it is lost when the artist becomes either too old to care for it or the work is mistreated or not aprpreciated. This is all too common and the very real treasures that have been lost in the past and are at risk at present is in marked and happy contrast with Bill Reid's works that will now be safe and secure and viewed by tens of thousands. I hope this example energises other universities and governments to do the same with their national treasures. Artists often make art in spite of the lack of public and private support as a kind of national service and in turn, their efforts ought to have a place in our national heart shown with pride.
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