Winnipeg Art Gallery breaks ground on world-class Inuit Art Centre

Artist impression of proposed Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. WAG

Shovels are officially in the ground as the Winnipeg Art Gallery began work on the Inuit Art Centre, the first building of its kind in the world.

The 40,000 square-foot, four-storey centre will be connected to the main gallery by bridges and will be the largest single space in the world devoted to Inuit art, culture and history.

“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,” Stephen Borys, Director & CEO of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, said.

The Inuit Art Centre is expected to cost $65 million. In 2015, the Selinger NDP government pledged to give $15 million to the project, but last December the Pallister government reduced that funding promise to $10 million over five years.

At the ceremony Friday, Pallister said they would contribute an additional $5 million, one provincial dollar for every two private dollars raised.

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Along with exhibition spaces, the centre will also include a glass enclosed visible art vault, a conservation facility, art studios, an interactive theatre, classrooms and a new cafe.

The gallery is launching an exhibit in celebration of the future art centre, called SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut.  It is the first major exhibit featuring Labrador Inuit art and will show 85 works from four generations of contemporary artists. The exhibit runs until October 14.

The building is set to open in time for Manitoba’s 150th birthday in 2020.