Bessie Bulman’s sister, Aileen (1896-1980), at far right, and her nephew, John Bulman, President of the Board (at left), at the opening of The Bessie Bulman Collection. An Exhibition of Contemporary Eskimo Sculpture, 1973. Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The WAG acquires close to 180 Inuit sculptures presented to the Gallery by heirs of the late Bessie Bulman (d. 1972). To hear John Bulman, President of the Board (1971-1974), talk about his aunt Bessie, click the link below.

“This is a valuable addition to the already extensive collection and includes pieces from 14 different [Inuit]  settlements” (June, WAG newsletter). In addition to being an active member of the Gallery’s volunteer Women’s Committee, Bulman had for decades chaired the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild (later renamed the Crafts Guild of Manitoba), which since 1952 had sold Inuit carving. She recognized very early that Inuit art was an important element in the Canadian mosaic. Her sister Eileen Abbott (1896-1980), also an active volunteer (she was President of the Women’s Committee from 1954 to 1957), was contacted by a doctors’ organization in Chicago, and accepted their invitation to give them a lecture on the collection.