Curator gives sneak peek into Inuit art centre

Qaumajuq, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new Inuit art centre, is just months away from opening to the public and Heather Igloliorte can’t wait to host its inaugural exhibit.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/11/2020 (694 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Qaumajuq, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new Inuit art centre, is just months away from opening to the public and Heather Igloliorte can’t wait to host its inaugural exhibit.

“It’s just so beautiful inside, so it’s really, really exciting to get to be the first people to try and do something in that space,” says the Concordia University art history professor over the phone from Montreal.

Igloliorte is a co-chairperson of the WAG’s Indigenous Advisory Circle and co-curator of INUA, the art centre’s first exhibit that will feature past and contemporary work from more than 40 Inuit artists from across Canada. Those who tune into this week’s First Friday Art Talk, moderated by Free Press writer Alison Gillmor on Nov. 6, will get a sneak preview of the event.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Dr. Heather Igloliorte is a co-curator of the inaugural exhibition at Qaumajuq, the WAG’s Inuit art centre.

“I’m going to talk about some of the artists that are in the show and what people can expect to see when they come in,” Igloliorte says.

She also plans on discussing how she got involved in the centre, who was involved in choosing the building’s new name — which is an Inuktitut word meaning “It is bright, it is lit” — and what a digital launch might look like if the gallery is unable to host a live event come February 2021.

Igloliorte and co-curators Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Kablusiak and Asinnajaq are making history in the Canadian art world with INUA as the first curatorial team to represent all four regions of the Inuit territories.

Inuit Art Centre becomes Qaumajuq

Julia Lafreniere, Manager of Indigenous Initiatives at the WAG. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)


Hello, Qaumajuq. Goodbye, Inuit Art Centre.

The soon-to-be-completed addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery focusing on its vast collection of Inuit works of art (the largest such compilation in the world) has a new name.

Qaumajuq (KOW-ma-yourk or HOW-ma-yourk) is translated from Inuktitut, one of the main languages of the Inuit, as "It is bright, it is lit."

The name change was announced by Theresie Tungilik, an Inuit member of an Indigenous advisory circle the WAG brought together for the project, during a livestreamed ceremony Wednesday morning.

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“There have been co-curated Inuit exhibitions before in Canada, but there’s never been one that actually has someone from each of the regions involved,” she says. “It’s over 60 communities and so how would anyone be familiar with the artists from all of those regions?”

Collaboration has been Qaumajuq’s guiding light.

Where museums and galleries often form Indigenous advisory boards in response to crisis or controversy, the WAG group — made up of elders and representatives from communities across Manitoba — came together well before the centre’s groundbreaking.

“It’s far from my first (advisory group) experience, but definitely my best experience to date,” says Igloliorte, who co-chairs the circle with University of Winnipeg art historian Julie Nagam.

“What we really wanted to do with the Winnipeg Art Gallery circle was… to design a vision for a new museum, led by people who are the primary stakeholders — so, the Indigenous peoples of this province and of the North.”

A link to this Friday’s online Art Talk, titled Northern Lights, can be found at The event is free to access and starts at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @evawasney

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Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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