Manitoba

A rare glance inside Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit Art Centre

Take a rare tour of the Winnipeg Art Gallery's new $65-million Inuit Art Centre, which is currently under construction and expected to open in fall 2020.

Centre's architect took CBC News on a rare tour of the construction site

The Inuit Art Centre is currently under construction at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

An innovative and interactive space which is expected to become home to the largest collection of Inuit art in the world is under construction at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The gallery's Inuit Art Centre promises to bring stories to the forefront from across Inuit Nunangat — the homeland of Inuit communities in Canada — which encompasses 35 per cent of Canada's landmass and 50 per cent of its coastline.

"We're trying to create a space that will feel like or insinuate a sense of the North so that the work that's shown there feels like it's really in its context," the centre's architect Michael Maltzan said.

"The landscape, the fluidity [and] the scale have all had a real effect on the actual architecture," he said.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery holds trust in more than 13,000 Inuit artworks – "each one with stories to tell" — according to the gallery's website.

The $65-million centre will house the largest collection of Inuit art in the world. (Michael Maltzan Architecture/Winnipeg Art Gallery)

The Winnipeg gallery has had a significant connection to Inuit art, especially post-war contemporary art, Maltzan said. The centre intends to continue building on those longstanding relations.

Manitoba is home to 610 people who identified as Inuit in the 2016 census. With a total of 65,025 Inuit living across the country, the population grew by nearly 30 per cent from 2006 to 2016.

Maltzan said the project is important to the Inuit culture, the history of the gallery and the city. He said he's pleased to see the progress of the construction and watch the project come to fruition.

"It's immensely gratifying," Maltzan said.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery says the new Inuit Art Centre will be home to a collection of contemporary Inuit art unlike any other in the world — and will bring new stories to the forefront. (Justin Fraser/CBC)
A rendering of the visible vault of the Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit Art Centre. (Michael Maltzan Architecture/Winnipeg Art Gallery)
The new art centre will allow the Winnipeg Art Gallery bring pieces like this out of its vault to the public. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

The Winnipeg centre's grand opening is set for fall 2020.

With files from CBC Radio-Canada

now