The Manitoba government is giving a $15-million boost to a unique centre, dedicated to showcasing Inuit art, that will be built at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Premier Greg Selinger says the WAG's Inuit Art Centre will join other high-profile attractions such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in making Manitoba a "top-notch tourist desintation."

"The first-of-its-kind Inuit Art Centre will help cement that reputation, creating hundreds of good jobs and protecting these cultural treasures for future generations," he said in a news release Friday.

With more than 13,000 pieces, the Winnipeg Art Gallery has the largest collection of Inuit art in the world. The new centre will house and display those artifacts as well as offer programming and initiatives to bridge the divide between northern communities and cities in the south.

The four-level, 40,000-square-foot Inuit Art Centre building will be directly adjacent to the existing building. In addition to Inuit and indigenous galleries, it will feature a vault in the entrance, space for artist and curator residencies and five studios offering year round programming.

Inuit Art Centre funding announcement

Winnipeg Art Gallery chairperson Dr. Ernest Cholakis, left, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection Minister Ron Lemieux and gallery CEO Stephen Borys at an announcement Friday about the province's $15-million commitment to the Inuit Art Centre. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC)

"Bridging Canada's north and south, the Inuit Art Centre will allow the WAG to share its world-renowned collection of Inuit art to its full potential," said Stephen Borys, director and CEO of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

With private donations included, a total of $30 million has been committed to the project so far. The Winnipeg Foundation donated $950,000 last month.

The $60-million price tag for the project includes the building, endowment and programming.

Officials hope to start construction at the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017, with an expected construction timeline of two years.

On Thursday, Selinger and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna signed an agreement that will have the WAG showcase nearly 8,000 carvings, prints, drawings and textiles from the territory's Inuit art collection, which had been in storage in the Northwest Territories and other locations, for five years.

The Nunavut and Manitoba governments have each agreed to provide up to $500,000 for that project over the next five years.