Canada’s Winnipeg Art Gallery will introduce an all-Inuit art building in 2014, WAG announced Tuesday.
The three-story, $25 million project, to be called the Inuit Art Centre, will contain the Manitoba museum’s entire Inuit art collection, the largest of its kind in the world.
The Inuit Art Centre will house 11,000 pieces, including carvings, prints and textiles from the past 60 years, as well as some contemporary Inuit art.
Ninety-five percent of WAG’s Inuit artwork is in currently in storage, because the gallery does not have the space to showcase it alongside their 14,000 other items. The new building will give the collection 10 times more space for display, according to WAG director Stephen Borys.
“With a collection that size, only a very small portion is exhibited,” Borys told CBC News. “We don’t have the space to really give it its due.”
Borys said he hopes the gallery will help educate the public, especially younger generations, about Inuit and aboriginal culture.
“For the first time, they’ll be given a truly comprehensive presentation of one of our aboriginal groups,” Borys says.
“It’s very important, I think, that we expose every visitor, be it a Winnipegger, Manitoban, or someone from the States, to this culture. We have the facility and the collection to do it.”
Brian Lunger, curator of the Iqualuit-based Nunatta Sunakutaangit Museum, says he hopes WAG’s new collection will also introduce southern Canadian art lovers to modern Inuit artists like Jacob Peterloosie.
“They’re recognizing the people who are working today,” Lunger says. “Not just focusing on the past.”
WAG was originally considering installing the Inuit Art Centre in the basement of the downtown Bay store building — across the street from the art gallery — alongside a new aboriginal research and cultural centre, Borys told the Winnipeg Free Press.
Construction on the Inuit Art Centre begins in 2012.