After decades of being hidden away in a storage room in the Northwest Territories, more than 8,000 Inuit artifacts will soon be put on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The artifacts are being moved from Yellowknife's Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to Winnipeg, through a loan agreement with the Government of Nunavut.

The WAG has the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world. It's planning on displaying the artifacts as part of the Inuit Art Centre, which was announced in November

When Nunavut was founded in 1999, it was decided that the Northwest Territories would divide its extensive collection of archives and artifacts in two.

Pieces from the Eastern Arctic were given to Nunavut, however, the territory doesn't have an appropriate facility to house its share.

Exterior view of observation lobby

Artist rendering of the view from the exterior of observation lobby at the Winnipeg Art Gallery's new Inuit Art Centre (Submitted by Winnipeg Art Gallery)

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife agreed in 2002 to store the complete collection — for approximately $1 million a year — until Nunavut was able to build its own facility.

However, more than a decade later, Nunavut still lacks a climate controlled facility to store the artifacts.

In 2006, the Government of Nunavut, alongside Nunavut land claims corporation Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., announced plans to build a $55 million heritage centre in Iqaluit, where the materials could be stored. However, the centre still hasn't been built. 

Inuit objects from the Nunavut collection have not been included in any new exhibits at the Prince of Wales Centre since the territories split apart in 1999.


  • The headline of this article previously stated the artifacts were on the move 'today.' It has been clarified to reflect that the move has been ongoing.
    Feb 18, 2016 11:31 AM CT