Extraordinary art collection donated to University of Lethbridge

A new art exhibit opened at the University of Lethbridge thanks to a generous donation of cultural pieces. Demi Knight

The learning and research surrounding cultural art at the University of Lethbridge will soon be enhanced, thanks to an extraordinary gift bequeathed to the facility by a long-time art lover and friend.

“It’s a very exciting gift,” says David Smith, assistant curator for the U of L art gallery. “It provides a fantastic resource for students to learn from, and for the broader community to experience the fantastic Canadian and International art that this collection includes.”

The estate of Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess is donating more than 1,100 pieces of art to the university, representing Indigenous, European and Canadian works that have rarely been viewed by the public.

“This collection of artwork is a great opportunity to learn about different forms of art-making,” says Eric Almberg, a fourth-year University of Lethbridge art student.

Valued at more than $4 million, faculty at the university excitedly unveiled the new exhibit Thursday, making the announcement to a large crowd, and honouring the woman who made it all possible.

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“She was really knowledgeable about museum practices and art,” says Josephine Mills, director/curator for the U of L art gallery. “We want to honour the legacy of her interest in community engagement through her art.”

Dr. Hess passed away at the age of 100, and had been collecting art since the 1950s, developing a passion to sprinkle her collection with works from esteemed Canadian artists, as well as unique international pieces. She was an inspirational southern Albertan woman who was an art historian and teacher, and a recipient of several honorary degrees.

The university will display part of this collection in the main gallery until Sept. 7, which will be renamed in honour of Dr. Hess, ensuring that her legacy lives on.

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