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Winnipeg Art Gallery | © Cayla/WikiCommons
Winnipeg Art Gallery | © Cayla/WikiCommons

Ottawa Promises $15 Million For Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit Art Centre

Picture of Alix Hall
Updated: 11 August 2016
Earlier this month, the federal government of Canada promised $15 million in funding for the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s (WAG) Inuit Art Centre. The four-storey, 40,000-square-foot centre will adjoin to the gallery’s current facility. The centre will store and exhibit the world’s largest collection of Inuit art, with more than 13,000 carvings, drawings, prints, textiles, and new-media artwork. The new building will house galleries, a vault, and five studios, in addition to space for curator and artist residencies. Stephen D. Borys, Director & CEO of WAG, promises the centre will be more than a home for the Inuit art collection: ‘It is about rethinking the role of the art museum while providing cultural and historical context for Inuit art and people.’

Plans for the Inuit Art Centre were announced in 2015. The Centre has already received donations, including $15 million from the province of Manitoba, $5 million from the city of Winnipeg, and private donations. The federal government’s $15 million is provided through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund and will go toward the construction of facilities and programming spaces, including exhibition space, art storage, classrooms, and a two-level interactive presentation theatre.

Proposed Inuit Art Centre, artist's rendering | Rendering by Michael Maltzan Architecture

Proposed Inuit Art Centre, artist’s rendering | Rendering by Michael Maltzan Architecture

Inspired by the landscape and people of the North, the centre will be designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture (Los Angeles), the winning bid from an architectural ideas competition that received 65 submissions from architects in 13 countries. Maltzan will work alongside Cibinel Architecture (Winnipeg) on the building’s design and construction.

Ground will break on the project in 2017, with the mission to:

‘[connect] people from the North and South to meet, learn, and create together. It will be a community hub for exhibitions and programs, research and learning, studio practice and art-making. The Centre will offer a unique opportunity to learn about Inuit and Canadian history and culture.’

The federal support for the project is a further testament to what Borys has described as a ‘timely cultural renaissance as Canadian society increasingly recognizes the magnitude of Indigenous art and its role in understanding.’