Watch the virtual celebration here.
Selected through an international competition, Michael Maltzan Architecture‘s challenge was to increase public access to the WAG’s celebrated collection of contemporary Inuit art, while respecting the context and character of the Gallery’s iconic 1971 modernist building, designed by Gustavo da Roza. Maltzan was inspired by a trip to Nunavut where the team visited Inuit communities and artists’ studios. Working with associate Cibinel Architecture, Maltzan’s design echos the ephemeral qualities of the North. Qaumajuq’s undulating white stone façade, made of Bethel Granite, hovers above the ground as if floating over the glass-filled lobby. Its abstract quality recalls the scale and carved forms of the North as well as the artwork housed within its walls.
“big steps forward” Inuvialuktun >>> Outdoor Plaza
Come relax at the new community plaza on St. Mary Ave. You can peek inside to the Visible Vault and other spaces of Qaumajuq, and enjoy the patio in the summer months. You’ll also come face-to-face with two new outdoor sculptures: Tuniigusiia/The Gift by Goota Ashoona, commissioned by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society; and Time to Play by Abraham Anghik Ruben, commissioned by Tannis M. Richardson.
“our relatives” in Inuktitut >>> Entrance Hall
The first thing you’ll see, even before you enter Qaumajuq, is a three-story glass vault filled with thousands of carvings from the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. The vault’s curved walls allow you to walk around the collection and also be immersed in it. You’ll see curators, conservators, and other Gallery staff working within the vault. It’s like a town square—you come from the outdoor plaza into the entrance hall with art, a main floor shop and café, and leading you to breathtaking new gallery and learning spaces.
New Era of Accessibility
Qaumajuq’s new main entrance isn’t the only way the Gallery is opening up, the entire main floor is FREE. Special for Qaumajuq’s inaugural year, membership is FREE if you’re 25 or under, and if you’re over 25 you can sign up for $35. Admission is FREE for all Indigenous Peoples.
“a place where you can go to learn” in Inuttitut >>> The Learning Steps
The Learning Steps is a 90-seat theatre where you can take in talks, performances, films, and more. It’s also a smart classroom expanding our distance learning programs, connecting classrooms, artists, elders, and educators locally, from North to South and worldwide. A massive curtain printed with an artwork by Elisapee Ishulutaq, titled Yesterday and Today, will envelop you during screenings and private events.
“seven” in Ojibway, in honour of the Indigenous group of seven >>> Collaborative Learning Centre
Make your way up to the second floor and discover the reading room with access to the Clara Lander Library which includes artist files, periodicals, and archives totalling over 24,000 volumes. Learn more about the space here. This research area expands on the Clara Lander Library, established in 1971.
The non-circulating collections support research activities of WAG staff and are also available to the academic community and general public. It overlooks the Learning Steps and features an outdoor terrace where you can not only hang out, but where you’ll discover artist demonstrations, performances, and more. Stay tuned!
Three New Gallery Spaces
- PIMÂTISIWIN “life and the act of living, to be alive” in Cree/Ojibway >>> Focus Gallery
- GIIZHIG / KISIK “sky, heaven, day” in Cree/Michif/Ojibway >>> Fourth Floor Gallery
- QILAK “sky” in Inuktitut >>> Main Inuit Gallery
On the third level, you will enter an intimate space called Pimâtisiwin that leads into Qilak, an 8,000-square-foot gallery dedicated to the display of Inuit art. Enormous skylights in the ceiling bring an amazing quality of light, illuminating the art and undulating walls. Keep ascending skyward to Giizhig, overlooking the main gallery.
The inaugural exhibition INUA brings together more than 90 Inuit artists working across the Arctic and the
Art-making has moved up to the rooftop level of the WAG! No matter your age or skill level, this new space is sure to inspire you. Join artist instructors and channel your creativity in five indoor classrooms, and two outdoor studios. From painting and pottery to carving and new media, choose from five and 10-week classes, or casual, one-night workshops (including private virtual sessions for you and your family and friends!).