WAG’s Rockwell Exhibition Brings in Record Numbers

When the Winnipeg Art Gallery closed its doors on American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, just over 30,000 visitors had viewed the show, making it one of the WAG’s most successful exhibitions ever. So popular in fact that the WAG extended it for an extra week and also opened the Gallery for longer hours the final few days.

“Seeing the Gallery filled with hundreds of people these past three months has been incredibly rewarding,” says WAG Executive Director Stephen Borys. “We saw seniors, parents with young children, teenagers, people of all ages, finding something in Rockwell’s work that they connected with or that appealed to them.  I was particularly thrilled to see school children from across the city and province arriving for tours and art-making programs – this hits at the heart of our mission.  It’s also important to remember that we couldn’t have done this without the generous support of our sponsors and volunteers.”

The Rockwell programming, which included two audio tours, lectures, guided tours, art workshops, a Family Sunday pancake breakfast, and talks by the artist’s son, Peter Rockwell, offered visitors a variety of ways to experience and learn more about Rockwell’s work.   There was also an unprecedented outreach into the schools, which resulted in sold out school tours and lots of excited kids, some visiting the WAG for the first time.

Borys states: “Winnipeggers and Manitobans confirmed once again that the WAG really matters in their community. They came to see Rockwell but they also visited our galleries filled with works from the permanent collection, ranging from historical European and North American art to contemporary Canadian to the finest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. And as we approach the launch of our Centennial year in September, the groundswell of support from the community is fabulous.”

Rockwell attendance figures far exceeded other popular WAG exhibitions in recent years, including Warhol:  Larger than Life in 2008 and Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession, Sculpture from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation in 2007. The record, however, was set by Art in the Age of Van Gogh: Dutch Paintings from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, which attracted close to 40,000 visitors in 1999.  However, Borys expects that record will be broken with the upcoming 2013 blockbuster exhibition, Only In Canada:  100 International Masterworks for the WAG Centennial.

American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell is organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, American Masterpieces Program. Sponsorship is also provided by the Curtis Publishing Company, the Norman Rockwell Estate Licensing Company, and the Stockman Family Foundation. Presenting Sponsor: Border Glass & Aluminum Local Sponsors: U.S. Embassy/Consulate, Lindsey Steek & Company, Ricoh, Manitoba Blue Cross, Sigurdson McFadden Benefits & Pensions and Manitoba Lotteries. Local Media Sponsors: Winnipeg Free Press, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, CJOB 68, CTV and Prairie Public Broadcasting.

Celebrating its centenary from September 2012 to August 2013, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and Manitoba’s leading art museum. With a collection of over 26,000 objects spanning ten centuries—including the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art—the WAG constantly moves between the historical and the contemporary, engaging a growing public with the power of art in our lives.





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