Manitoba·Video

Winnipeg Art Gallery sets up shop, promotes Inuit art at The Forks

A new retail space to promote and sell Inuit art is opening at The Forks, as part of a partnership between the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Government of Nunavut.
The idea for WAG@The Forks grew out of consultations around the planned Inuit Art Centre and the role the WAG plays in promoting Inuit art and economic development, a news release from the WAG says. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A new retail space to promote and sell Inuit art is opening at The Forks, as part of a partnership between the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Government of Nunavut.

The space was unveiled to media on Wednesday and will open to the public on June 25 in the Johnston Terminal.

WAG@The Forks will also feature the type of handmade goods found at the downtown WAG Gallery Shop: jewelry, contemporary Canadian crafts, First Nations and Métis art and more.

"By extending the WAG brand to one of Manitoba's most popular attractions, WAG@The Forks will build new audiences for Inuit art and drive tourism to the North," said Stephen Borys, WAG director and CEO.

WAG@The Forks will provide another venue for northern artists to sell their amazing works, said Nunavut Minister of Economic Development and Transportation Monica Ell-Kanayuk. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The plan is for WAG@The Forks to be in place for the next three years.

"This retail gallery provides another venue for our talented artists to sell their amazing works," said Nunavut Minister of Economic Development and Transportation Monica Ell-Kanayuk.

"This further encourages Nunavut artists to produce high-quality work and market their art across Canada, which allows for greater engagement with Inuit art and culture."

The idea grew out of consultations around the planned Inuit Art Centre and the role the WAG plays in promoting Inuit art and economic development, a news release from the WAG says.

The WAG holds in trust the world's largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. With more than 13,000 pieces, the collection represents half of the gallery's total permanent art collection.

The $60-million Inuit Art 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.

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The four-level, 40,000-square-foot Inuit Art Centre building will be directly adjacent to the existing downtown WAG 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.

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

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