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WAG Celebrates Groundbreaking for Inuit Art Centre

Winnipeg, Manitoba, May 25, 2018: After years of planning, the Winnipeg Art Gallery was thrilled to break ground this morning for the Inuit Art Centre, a new home for the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. Set to open in 2020, Manitoba’s 150th birthday, the Centre will connect Canada’s North and South by sharing art and stories, and quadruple hands-on programing for students.

The WAG Inuit Art Centre will be a full sensory experience that brings people together through art in new and unexpected ways. By elevating art from object to experience, it will complement and augment what the 106-year Gallery delivers today. The Centre will inspire visitors with a stunning glass vault, state-of-the-art studios, virtual reality, and more.

As Canada builds roads to reconciliation, the WAG Inuit Art Centre is a path to mutual understanding and respect. The Centre will be a new forum for international cultural dialogue, bringing Indigenous voices to the community, nation, and around the globe.

A new exhibition marking this historic groundbreaking opens tonight at the WAG. SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut features the breathtaking and long-hidden work of the contemporary Inuit artists and craftspeople of the Labrador Inuit.

• Designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Manitoba’s Cibinel Architecture Ltd, the new 40,000-square-foot, four-storey Inuit Art Centre will be connected to the main building by bridges on all levels.
• The $65 million ($50 million committed) initiative will include the creation of exhibition spaces; a glass enclosed visible art vault; a conservation facility; art studios; a two-level interactive theatre; classrooms; a new café, and more.
• In partnership with Inuit, the Centre will be the largest single gallery space in the world devoted to Inuit art, culture, and history.
• The new cultural landmark will contribute to downtown renewal and Manitoba’s unique tourism package.
• The Centre has support from all three levels of government as well as private sector funding.
• With over 13,000 carvings, drawings, prints, textiles, and new media, the WAG holds in trust the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. The collection is supported by an unparalleled record of Inuit art exhibitions, publications, and research.
• Established in 1912, the WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is an iconic cultural institution in Manitoba. Through exhibits, educational programs and special events it enlightens tens of thousands of visitors each year. The new Inuit Art Centre will inspire greater understanding of Northern art and culture while serving as an important resource to our community.
–The Honourable Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba

Investing in cultural infrastructure enriches our communities, making them even more vibrant and inclusive places. These spaces, like the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre, are essential to showcasing Canadian creativity to ourselves and to the world. The Government of Canada is proud to be part of WAG’s ongoing commitment to preserving and celebrating Inuit art. This investment—the most federal support ever provided through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund—will help create a world-leading Inuit Art Centre to be enjoyed for generations to come.
—The Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

I am pleased to be able to take part in today’s groundbreaking ceremony and celebrate this important milestone with the Winnipeg Art Gallery. After many years of consulting and planning, the dream of the Inuit Art Centre is one step closer to reality thanks to the historic support provided by the federal government.
– Dan Vandal, Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface–Saint Vital

It’s been a long road and it’s incredible to finally break ground on the Inuit Art Centre. I’ve long been a supporter of the arts sector in Winnipeg and the Inuit Art Centre will make Winnipeg an internationally recognized leader in Indigenous arts and culture. Thank you to all who have helped make this day possible!
Brian Bowman, Mayor of Winnipeg

I join the Winnipeg Art Gallery and members of the Gallery’s Indigenous Circle in commemorating this momentous step in the creation of an Inuit Art Centre to display the stories of Inuit told through art. Inuit art celebrates our history, present, and also imagines our future. It is vitally important that Inuit participate in the governance and curation of this initiative, as Inuit art continues to be one of the primary ways that people of southern Canada and around the world learn about who we are. I hope this gallery proves to be a new entry point to better understanding and respecting Canadian Inuit art, and by extension, greater respect for our communities and our homeland, Inuit Nunangat.
–Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

The WAG Inuit Art Centre will connect with more people and in new ways. It will be rooted in the belief that art is essential to building community and inspiring us to learn and move forward. The Centre will expand the Wag platform so that more voices can be shared and heard, bringing Canada’s North and South together.
–Dr. Ernest Cholakis, Board Chair, Winnipeg Art Gallery

This is a great day for our city, province, and country, but most importantly, for the Inuit, as we begin construction on the first Inuit Art Centre of its kind for the largest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. With a story found within every piece of art, there are thousands of stories to share here, and countless new ones to discover and create.
–Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery

As the co-chairs we are ecstatic to have our second meeting convene at the historic groundbreaking of the Inuit Art Centre and the opening of SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut. The work of the circle is instrumental if not critical to the transformation of the WAG affecting both the City of Winnipeg and Canada. The circle members are leading the way and the WAG will continue to strive to have the voices of First Nations, Inuit and Metis at the forefront of this institution today and into the future.
–Dr. Heather Igloliorte, Assistant Professor and Research Chair Concordia University and Co-chair, Indigenous Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery; Dr. Julie Nagam, Associate Professor and Research Chair University of Winnipeg and co-chair, Indigenous Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery

I am honored to be working with the WAG and the Inuit community in bringing to life the new Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In designing the new Centre we have drawn inspiration from the North’s landscape, light, people, and abstract beauty. The design for the Centre includes a real diversity of art viewing and educational spaces that celebrate both the physical forms and the spirit of Inuit art and culture. The new building will be a true public face for Inuit art for Winnipeg, for Manitoba, and for the whole of Canada.
– Michael Maltzan, Architect, Michael Maltzan Architecture

Inuit Art Centre
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Visit and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram #inuitartcentre

Catherine Maksymiuk
Manager, Media & Marketing
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Tammy Sawatzky
Public Relations Coordinator
Winnipeg Art Gallery

About the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. The WAG holds in trust the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art on earth. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building the Inuit Art Centre, the first of its kind in the world. Breaking ground in 2018, the Centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. To learn more visit

Click here for media release in French.

Click here for media release in Inuktitut.

Click here for the Government of Manitoba funding release.


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