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WAG planning $30M Inuit Art Centre

Centre of excellence will showcase world's largest collection of Inuit art

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/9/2010 (3333 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery plans to leave a legacy of its 2012 centennial year by erecting a $30-million Inuit Art Centre on the site of its current studio building.

The facility will showcase the WAG's public collection of Inuit art -- the world's largest -- and serve as an international centre of excellence for education, research, study and celebration of the unique Canadian art genre, WAG director Stephen Borys told the Free Press.

Plans call for a three-level structure connected to the main WAG building, with about 45,000 square feet of space for exhibitions, art classes, research, studios and collection storage.

The current WAG Studio building, the former Mall Medical Building that sits next door to the WAG at the corner of Memorial Boulevard and St. Mary Avenue, will be demolished. The educational programs that have operated there for 15 years will have new space in the Inuit Centre.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/9/2010 (3333 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The WAG Studio building.

The WAG Studio building.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery plans to leave a legacy of its 2012 centennial year by erecting a $30-million Inuit Art Centre on the site of its current studio building.

The facility will showcase the WAG's public collection of Inuit art — the world's largest — and serve as an international centre of excellence for education, research, study and celebration of the unique Canadian art genre, WAG director Stephen Borys told the Free Press.

Plans call for a three-level structure connected to the main WAG building, with about 45,000 square feet of space for exhibitions, art classes, research, studios and collection storage.

The current WAG Studio building, the former Mall Medical Building that sits next door to the WAG at the corner of Memorial Boulevard and St. Mary Avenue, will be demolished. The educational programs that have operated there for 15 years will have new space in the Inuit Centre.

Winnipeg Art Gallery director Stephen Borys says the WAG will replace the current studio building with a $30-million Inuit Art Centre that will also serve as an international centre of excellence.

Winnipeg Art Gallery director Stephen Borys says the WAG will replace the current studio building with a $30-million Inuit Art Centre that will also serve as an international centre of excellence.

The WAG, Canada's oldest civic art museum, hopes to break ground sometime during its centennial celebration in 2012-13, and open the Inuit Centre doors in 2014.

Of the WAG's total collection of about 25,000 art objects, close to half — more than 11,000 — are Inuit sculptures, drawings, prints and textiles.

"It's important that people understand how important that Inuit collection is, and the responsibility we have to bring it to an international stage," Borys said. "We have local, regional, national and international support (for the new centre)."

During the centennial season, extending from fall 2012 to summer 2013, "There will be Canadian art, European art and American art featured, but rising above them all, there's going to be a truly celebratory approach to the Inuit collection. It must be given its due."

The institution is aiming to raise $30 million: $18 million for the Inuit Art Centre, $7 million for the Art Studio component, and $5 million for an endowment. It has started the quiet phase of the capital campaign and will launch the two-year public phase in the fall of 2011.

This is the first major expansion project, and first public capital campaign, since the current building was built in 1970. Borys has had preliminary funding discussions with all three levels of government.

Borys is chairing an architectural committee that will include members of the Inuit community. It may decide to hold a design competition, he said.

The University of Winnipeg and the Hudson's Bay Company recently approached the WAG, suggesting that the Inuit Art Centre be housed in a proposed aboriginal research and cultural centre on two vacant floors of the downtown Bay building, Borys said. But the WAG board declined.

"I definitely want to work with them on aboriginal initiatives, including Inuit, but we feel strongly that the Inuit Art Centre should be here on this property," he said.

The WAG is a world leader in Inuit art curatorship and scholarship. Since 1964, it has organized about 140 Inuit art exhibitions and produced more than 40 catalogues and other publications.

The bulk of the Inuit holdings have been acquired through significant gifts from collectors. "We have a huge responsibility to honour those gifts (and) honour the culture," Borys said. "You can't miss Inuit culture when you come into the WAG now, but there's more that we need to do."

Inuit art will continue to be shown in the main WAG galleries after the centre is open, the director added.

alison.mayes@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Saturday, September 4, 2010 at 2:22 PM CDT: Removes extra word.

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