Winnipeggers will be able to see the Northern Lights this winter and all they have to do is take a trip downtown to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The green and blue fading lights lit up the WAG and Qaumajuq buildings on Friday, which marked the first day of the WAG’s year-long celebration called Qaumajuq365, which celebrates the opening of the Inuit art building.
'It'll be amazing. In February and March we'll be showing a series of projection shows highlighting contemporary Inuit art'‐ Rachel Baerg, head of learning and programs at the WAG
"Qaumajuq translates to ‘it is bright. It is lit.’ So, really Qaumajuq, the opening of the building and the inaugural year is all about light, illumination, sharing," said Stephen Borys, the WAG’s director and CEO.
"Qaumajuq is all about the North. It’s about the Arctic. It’s about the Inuit. And of course, in these shorter days of the year from January to March, it’s just a chance for us to celebrate the night but also what the light can do to it."
With COVID-19 keeping the public out of the new gallery, Borys said having projection shows of Inuit art will give people a preview of what to expect when they’re able to open their doors.
"We knew we wanted to light the building but knowing we can’t be open, it’s even more important that at least we can share something of the project with people," he said.
"You will also be able to see inside the building, see the visible vault and just get a sense of the amazing light that comes out of Qaumajuq… and when you do get inside you will see literally thousands of Inuit carvings that are now on view for the first time."
With the current code-red restrictions, Borys said even when restrictions are relaxed that capacity will likely still be limited, which is why the celebration will last throughout 2021 to allow as many people to visit as possible.
The buildings are currently being lit by LED bar lights from Eventlight.ca, a local event production company.
Projection shows are already being planned for the winter, which are being co-ordinated by Rachel Baerg, head of learning and programs at the WAG. She added they’re planning to buy projectors to put on the roof across the street to project the shows.
"We said how can we make this exciting and bring the art out to the streets where it’s safe," she said. "It’ll be amazing. In February and March we’ll be showing a series of projection shows highlighting contemporary Inuit art."
Baerg said the lighting of the WAG and Qaumajuq buildings are just the beginning of a series of events the WAG plans to put on. She said she’s hopeful the warm winter weather will encourage more Winnipeggers to check out the light show.
The Northern Lights will illuminate downtown Winnipeg most evenings from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to the WAG website.