This photo shows a view of fourteen white glass-fronted rectangular boxes placed side by side. Inside them are wooden sticks wrapped in white string. The boxes are propped against a white wall.

Irene F. Whittome

(b. Vancouver 1942)


The White Museum II (detail)


Assemblage of 14 boxes

Natural and painted wood, cord, string, jute cloth, rough linen, moulded paper, liquid latex, bronze wires, cotton wool, glass, Plexiglas

219.1 x 25.4 x 15.8 cm (each box)

Purchased in 1988 with funds from the Estates of Frances Loring and Florence Wyle

Art Gallery of Ontario, 88/139

© Irene F. Whittome / SODRAC (2018)

The White Museum II is an assemblage of fourteen vertical sculptures in a frieze-like arrangement. The sculptures are composed of long wooden sticks more or less wrapped in white fibre and aligned in white glass-fronted boxes. Although wrapped in the same materials and set in the same position, each stick is different. This work refers to museum practices not only through its title but also through its use of devices for display and conservation, its whiteness (recalling the white cube) and its classification of a “collection.” While The White Museum exists in four versions, many other installations by Irene F. Whittome also make reference to museums.

The multidisciplinary artist Irene F. Whittome studied at the Vancouver School of Art under Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998). She settled in Montréal in 1968 and, a few years later, began creating complex installations that blended drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and photography. The series The White Museum (I, II, III, IV) marked a pivotal shift in her work, and museums and collections have been recurrent themes since then. Whittome received the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas in 1997 and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2002, and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005.


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