WAG open again, gearing up for Inuit Art Centre grand opening

Workers install "Time to Play" by Abraham Anghik Ruben outside the WAG's new Inuit Art Centre. Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Winnipeg Art Gallery reopened to the public last week, with some new exhibits on display and new safety protocols in place.

The new additions start before you even get inside — two massive sculptures have been unveiled on the outdoor plaza. The first, titled Time to Play by Abraham Anghik Ruben, is a large limestone carving of a family of bears playing. The second, Goota Ashoona’s Tuniigusiia/The Gift, is a marble statue that is meant to reflect knowledge transfer through education and storytelling, as well as the important role played by teachers. Both sculptures mark the entrance to Qaumajuq, the WAG’s new Inuit art centre.

Workers install “Time to Play” by Abraham Anghik Ruben outside the WAG’s new Inuit Art Centre. Winnipeg Art Gallery

Art Gallery engagement officer Amber O’Reilly tells Global News she’s excited for the new art centre to open next month.

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“The Inuit Art Centre will be open in late March,” she said, “and you can already get a sneak peek of it from the outdoor plaza.”

She adds that the launch for the centre will still be held virtually, so everyone can see the exhibits online while the gallery follows capacity restrictions.

“The main virtual launch will be happening online,” she said, “so we can be accessible to as many people as possible because we will still have those capacity limits in place, most likely when the building opens to the public.”

Goota Ashoona’s “Tuniigusiia/The Gift,”.

The main WAG building reopened to the public on Valentine’s Day and has instituted strict COVID-19 protocols. This includes contact tracing, hand sanitization stations, and mandatory mask-wearing.

O’Reilly says it’s an exciting time for WAG staff, patrons and artists.

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“And we’re especially excited to open our doors to the local Inuit community, which is starting to grow.” She said, “So, yeah, there’s a lot to look forward to.”