Coptic Museum of Canada
Coptic Museum of Canada was open to the public in 2000. The collection reflects the 2000 year-long history of the Copts, and the influences of the various civilizations that ruled Egypt after the decline of the ancient Egyptian dynasties: Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Persian and since the mid-seventh century, Islamic. An undergirding theme we communicate through the artefacts is the “continuity” of the essence of Coptic culture, spirituality, and artistic expressions. While many museums have Coptic collections, Coptic Museum of Canada is the only Coptic museum outside of Egypt. The Museum’s collection has expanded extensively since its opening and plans are in progress for a special building to house the collection on the Coptic Canadian Village site, Markham, Ontario.
The Museum’s collection is very diverse. Exhibits include Coptic icons dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, textile fragment (2nd-8th century), tapestries from the famous twentieth century Wissa Wassef School, manuscripts and rare books, papyrus fragments, ancient Egyptian jewellery, terracotta works, wood and metal works, crosses of various styles, and more. The uniqueness of the Museum is also that this is the only museum which exhibits paintings of six biblical scenes in Coptic Folkloric Style by Marguerite Nakhla. Ms Nakhla was one of the pioneers of the Modern Egyptian Art Movement of the twentieth century and in 1975 she was recognized as the leading woman painter of the century. In 2009, the Museum published book on the life and works: Marguerite Nakhla: Legacy to Modern Egyptian Art.
The Museum’s collection also includes the history of the Copts in North America and in particular St. Mark’s Coptic Church. Established in 1964, St. Mark’s was the first Coptic Church in North America.
In addition to the Museum’s permanent collection, special exhibitions are offered on the premises or elsewhere. The Museum also participates in exhibitions with other museums or galleries.
The Museum is open on request. Guided tours are offered to individuals and groups. Tours can also include St. Mark’s Coptic Church and its third century architectural design. Specially designed tours are offered to public and private schools, as well as university and other special interest groups. Each year on the second weekend of September St. Mark’s Church and Museum celebrate the Annual Coptic Festival to mark the Coptic New Year which falls on September 11.
The Museum offers art workshops throughout the year. For example, icon writing/painting, portraiture oil painting, drawing and mural painting, clay works, mosaics, stained glass, jewellery making.
University internship opportunities are offered, such as in collections management, curating exhibitions. The Museum’s Reference Library specializing in Coptic art and history is also used teachers and secondary school students and university faculty and students.
As a founding members of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies (CSCS) with offices at the University of Toronto Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, the Museum has also co-sponsored the annual Coptic Studies Symposia.
For more information: www.copticmuseum-canada.org