The Winnipeg Art Gallery has received $1 million from the Bank of Montreal, the largest private donation to date for the gallery's Inuit Art Centre.

The donation from BMO will help build the centre, which will showcase Inuit art, culture and history.

"BMO Financial Group's generous gift helps the Winnipeg Art Gallery build more bridges between Canada's north and south," WAG director and CEO Stephen Borys said in a news release Tuesday.

John MacAulay at WAG announcement

John MacAulay, senior vice-president of BMO's Prairies and central Canada division, announces the bank's $1-million donation to the Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit Art Centre on Tuesday. (Sara Calnek/CBC)

"Building on the long-standing relationship between BMO and the WAG, the Inuit Art Centre will inspire Canadians with this vibrant culture and art form like never before." BMO has been the WAG's bank since 1912.

With more than 13,000 pieces of art, including sculptures, prints and drawings, the WAG has the largest collection of Inuit art in the world.

Once built, the centre will house and display those works 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 gallery building.

In addition to Inuit and indigenous galleries, it will include space for artist and curator residencies and five studios offering year-round programming.

"One of the many benefits of Canada's diverse population is a rich and dynamic arts community, and this initiative will provide a platform to educate Canadians of all ages on an important part of our shared history and culture," said John MacAulay, senior vice-president of BMO's Prairies and central Canada division.

The $60-million price tag for the centre includes construction, endowment and programming.

The Winnipeg Foundation donated $950,000 to the Inuit Art Centre in October. The provincial government committed $15 million last month.