The 2008 Melva J. Dwyer Award was announced during Convocation on Friday, May 2nd, 2008 by Marilyn Nasserden at the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. The winning publication is the Index to National Gallery of Canada Exhibition Catalogues and Checklists 1880-1930, by Philip Dombowsky, a 2007 publication of the National Gallery of Canada, Library and Archives.

Of the excellent nominations this year, this Canadian art publication is the one which stood out as being of primary importance to research in Canadian art history.

The Index provides access to the contents of the early exhibition catalogues of the National Gallery of Canada, produced during the Gallery's first fifty years. The National Gallery of Canada is one of the preeminent institutions for holding material pertinent to the study of Canadian visual culture, especially holdings documenting the late 19th to early 20th century.

This publication provides invaluable information not only about the exhibition history of the National Gallery of Canada but also invaluable information about the artists represented in those exhibitions - information which was previously not easy to obtain. Over 10,000 works of art from 49 catalogues and 65 unpublished checklists are indexed.

An illustrated introductory essay with a bibliography provides a well-researched overview of the National Gallery of Canada�s early exhibition history. A clearly written and laid out User Guide follows it. The chronological list of Catalogues and Checklists precedes the main section of this work, which is the extensive index of artists and their works represented in those Catalogues and Checklists. An alphabetical listing of the collectors, owners and/or lenders of the art works is also included. The Artist Index is cross-referenced back to the list of Catalogues and Checklists by date and abbreviated catalogue heading while the Collector Index is cross-referenced back to the entries of the individual works of art in the Artist Index using a reference number.

For anyone doing research on early artists in Canada, this work will prove essential.

The inclusion of attractive black and white photographs in conjunction with the clean typography and layout make this work highly accessible. In addition there is an interesting use of different paper weights: heavier paper for the introductory essay and User Guide and lighter-weight paper for the actual Artists Index, allowing for easy reference.

The strength of this work lies in the thoroughness of Mr. Dombowsky�s research and his close attention to detail. It is scholarly and well researched, with broad appeal and applicability. It is also commended as a bilingual publication, which will be widely used as an art reference source across the country, filling a gap in the documentation of Canadian art and art activity.

Marilyn Berger, Head of the Blackader Lauterman (Art) Library at McGill University, kindly agreed to accept the Melva J. Dwyer Award to recognize excellence in Canadian art publishing on behalf of Philip Dombowsky and the National Gallery of Canada at the Denver ARLIS/NA Conference. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Dombowsky and the NGC!

Marilyn Nasserden
Chair, 2008 Melva J. Dwyer Award Jury and
Past-Chair, ARLIS/NA Canada