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November 10, 2022 – March 12, 2023


Music Born of the Cold

This exhibition addresses a hitherto little explored theme: the place of music in Inuit visual art. Combining anthropology and Indigenous art history, it offers a thorough panorama of contemporary and traditional art originating from the circumpolar regions.

The rich tapestry of Inuit musical expression

ᑐᓴᕐᓂᑐᑦ TUSARNITUT! illustrates for the first time the diversity and breadth of Inuit musical expression in the visual and performing arts of the circumpolar North, from pre-colonial times to the present. The exhibition highlights the connections between visual art and drum dancing and throat singing. It also transports us to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period when widespread colonial contact and exchange in the Arctic regions fostered Inuit adaptation of new instruments and musical ideas, leading to vital transformations in form and meaning in specific regional contexts.


Renowned artists

ᑐᓴᕐᓂᑐᑦ TUSARNITUT! presents about 100 Inuit sculptures, prints, drawings and installations by renowned artists, including Karoo Ashevak, Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Mattiusi Iyaituk, David Ruben Piqtoukun, Annie Pootoogook, Kananginak Pootoogook, Jessie Oonark and Niap (Nancy Saunders). Brought together from the MMFA’s collection, the Avataq Cultural Institute and other local and international lenders, these artworks are juxtaposed with a rich body of museum objects, archival photographs, documents and field recordings that frame the context of the dynamic evolution and major cross-cultural transformations of Inuit music and aesthetics in the visual arts.


In the media

Special episode on Inuit music and the exhibition TUSARNITUT!

ICI Musique, Minotan!

Play the episode

C’est à une belle histoire culturelle que nous convie le MBAM cet hiver. Une histoire de résilience et de perpétuation des savoirs, des traditions et des talents […]. Un hommage à une tradition ancestrale.

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Éric Clément
La Presse

Inuit music takes centre stage in a new exhibition at the MMFA.

Read the article

T’Cha Dunlevy
The Montreal Gazette

Une culture envoûtante et un univers fascinant à découvrir.

See the video

TV5 Monde logo
Catherine François
TV5 Monde, Le Journal International

Musical twist to Inuit art in Montreal.

Read the article

Félix Charron-Leclerc
Nunavut News

[…] Une fenêtre sur l’imaginaire inuit qu’on connaît trop peu.

Écouter l'extrait

Radio-Canada logo
Katerine Verebely
ICI Radio-Canada Première, Dessine-moi un matin

Credits and curatorial team

An exhibition curated by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, ethnomusicologist and Professor Emeritus at Université de Montréal, and Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, Curator and Mediator of Inuit Art, MMFA, in collaboration with Charissa von Harringa, Curatorial Associate, MMFA.

Presented by

Major Public Partner

Gouvernement du Canada

Great Benefactor

Official Sponsor

Media Partner

Public Partners

Karoo Ashevak (1940-1974), Untitled (Drum Beater), about 1973, whale bone, ivory, black substance, 46.5 x 29.5 x 51.2 cm. MMFA, purchase, gift of L. Marguerite Vaughan. © Public Trustee of Nunavut, Estate of Karoo Ashevak. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Mattiusi Iyaituk (born in 1950), Much Power in the Words, 2005, granitic gneiss, caribou antler, muskox hair, 19 x 26.5 x 30 cm. MMFA, purchase, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Acquisition Assistance Program and the Serge Desroches Bequest. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

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