The Winnipeg Art Gallery's planned new Inuit Art Centre got a gift Wednesday as the Winnipeg Foundation prepares to celebrate its 95th year, a cheque for $950,000, one of the foundation's largest donations ever. 

WAG CEO Stephen Borys said the money means fundraising for the new centre has now more than half the target for private donations, bringing the centre into closer focus.

"Where we are at with the private sector has convinced me the project will go ahead. The support thus far has been overwhelming. This adds to it and gives us great momentum," he said. 

"Art is one of the most powerful tools to communicate ideas, symbols, [a] way of life. Most people never get the chance to travel, to see the land that is the context for the art making. The Inuit Art Centre can help convey something of that greatness," he added.

With more than 13,000 pieces the WAG 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 $60 million price tag for the project includes the building, endowment and programming. 

The four-level, 40,000 square foot 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.  

It is hoped that shovels will be in the ground at the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017 with an expected construction timeline of two years. 

The WAG also opened a new exhibit called the Inuit Art Centre project that outlines what the new gallery will look like and potential programming.