Construction starts on Winnipeg’s Inuit Art Centre

A late May groundbreaking ceremonially kicked off construction for Winnipeg’s new Inuit Art Centre. Designed by Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture in association with Winnipeg’s Cibinel Architects Ltd., the $65-million project will “house the Gallery’s celebrated collection of contemporary Inuit art and provide new facilities for an expanded studio art and educational program,” the Michael Maltzan website explains.Inuit Art Centre, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Cibinel Architects

The site provides more details:

The 40,000 square-foot addition to the iconic existing building by Gustavo da Roza faces south toward the Manitoba Legislature building in downtown Winnipeg, and will include new galleries, a lecture theatre, research areas, and a visible art storage vault. With a collection of nearly 13,000 works of Inuit art, the WAG has had a long and continuous commitment to the research, exhibition, and publication of art by the Canadian Inuits. The IAC will be the largest exhibition gallery in Canada devoted to indigenous art.

As part of the design process, Michael Maltzan joined Winnipeg Art Gallery Director Stephen Borys, Curator of Inuit Art Dr. Darlene Coward Wight, Associate Architect George Cibinel, and architectural photographer Iwan Baan on a trip to the province of Nunavut to visit Inuit communities and active artists’ studios. The expedition provided a unique opportunity for the project team to experience the people, culture, and landscape of the North during the formative conceptual design phase of the IAC. The design draws on the ephemeral qualities of northern environments that celebrate historic and contemporary Inuit art and culture.

The design centers on double-height visible Inuit Vault located immediately adjacent to the IAC entry on the corner of St. Mary’s Avenue and Memorial Boulevard. The vault’s curved glass walls extend from floor to ceiling and include shelving that follows the curvature of the enclosure. Additional vault storage, accessible by a stairwell connecting to the visible vault, is located in the building’s lower level. The vault interior will be accessible to curators and scholars while the public will be able to look into the storage room from the Inuit Vault Lobby. A new lecture room, café, and reading room will be adjacent to the lobby providing educational and research spaces in close proximity to the Visible Vault. The ground level design also includes minor modifications to the existing building that includes a new gallery shop.

The expansive, light-filled Inuit Gallery on the building’s third level provides 8,500 square feet of open, flexible exhibition space dedicated to the display of Inuit art. The voluminous gallery is intended to reflect the natural environments of the North, the setting in which much of the art is created. The monumental, sculptural walls evoke the immense geographic features that are the background of many Inuit towns and inlets. Figural skylights in the ceiling suffuse the gallery with light from the broad spectrum of the sky creating an ethereal illumination that focuses the viewer on the Inuit Art in the gallery. An Indigenous Gallery on the upper roof level and open to the Inuit Gallery below, will honor the Inuit and other aboriginal peoples of the North providing an open space for exhibitions, public performances, private celebrations, or quiet meditation.

Education studios and classrooms are concentrated at the WAG’s penthouse level, providing students access to the large roof terrace.  New education spaces include a dedicated education lobby and reception, clay studio, kiln room, and two exterior studios for summer and winter activities, such as stone carving and ice sculpting.


You can find more information about the Inuit Art Centre via the Michael Maltzan Architecture website, linked here.