A bridge to the North
The Winnipeg Art Gallery breaks ground on new Inuit Art Centre.
For years, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) has been considered a world-renowned hub for contemporary Inuit art, with more sculptures and prints than it has ever had room to display.
Now construction is underway for a new Inuit Art Centre (IAC) that will showcase the museum’s incredible collection.
Darlene Coward Wight, curator of Inuit art, has spent years working in the basement of the gallery, surrounded by the thirteen-thousand-piece collection. She is excited to finally share these works with the public and hopes the centre will help to create deeper understanding and appreciation of Inuit art and culture.
“Many of us don’t get to go north, so we feel this will help people understand the culture of the region, through this art,” Wight said. “We’re not just looking at it as a place to show art — we’re looking at it as a place … to have a meeting of cultures.”
The new centre will quadruple the amount of space for student learning and strengthen the existing art programming of the gallery. New studios will provide space for art- ists to create art in-house, while teaching others their craft.
The design for the $65-million centre was created by Los Angeles architect Mitchell Maltzan. His original design for the building was quite geometric, said Wight, but Maltzan’s vision began to transform upon visiting the North.
In 2013, Wight led Maltzan and the gallery’s director and CEO, Stephen Borys, into the small Inuit village of Pangnirtung, located on Baffin Island. Wight said Maltzan was struck by the landscape of the northern fjords.
“He just suddenly realized the building had to be more reflective of the North,” she said. “The shape of the icebergs really inspired him.”
The northern influence is evident in the effortless curves and peaks along the building’s facade. The installation of dozens of circular skylights on the building’s roof were inspired by the intensity Arctic light.
The IAC is expected to open in 2019.
Conceptual drawings of the Inuit Art Centre highlight the architect’s use of natural light and open-concept design.