John P. Doelman Collection of Inuit Art
This collection highlights several of the objects bequeathed to the Penn Museum by Penn alumnus John P. Doelman III (Class of 1956). The bequest includes 130 Inuit carvings, 6 Arctic prints, and 5 photogravures by Edward S. Curtis. Mr. Doelman received his first Inuit carving as a child, and this planted the seed of a lifelong love of the art. He spent his adult life collecting carvings directly from Inuit artists in Northern Canada and from galleries throughout North America.
The sculptures in this collection were carved by Inuit artists between 1960 and 2006. What makes the collection so special is that in addition to the exquisite craftsmanship, we know the artists’ names and the year collected for nearly all of the pieces, thanks to Mr. Doelman’s diligent and enthusiastic record keeping. This information enables us to acknowledge the artists as individuals in space and time who are expressing both personal and cultural ideas through their work.
Much of the collection was created by established elders, both male and female, but work by younger carvers is also represented. The artists are from a number of different communities in the Central Arctic, including Cape Dorset, Baker Lake, Canada; Arviat and Ranklin Inlet, Nunavut; and Paulatuk and Yellowknife, Northwest Territory.
Many subjects and themes are represented in these pieces, from the everyday—such as hunting (2012-25-72; 2012-25-1; 2012-25-23), mothers with children (2012-25-111; 2012-25-103), and animals (2012-25-67; 2012-25-110)—to the more sublime—for example, transformation pieces that move between human and animal forms (2012-25-81; 2012-25-100); and spiritual and mythological themes 2012-25-124; 2012-25-122). Thanks to Mr. Doelman, these sculptures enable us to see and experience a rich range of expressions and to think about the ideas and environment that continue to inspire living Inuit artists.
To see the entire collection, CLICK HERE.