Favourite local gallery or artist space

Supplied photo (Lindsay Reid)

1. WAG & Qaumajuq
2. Artspace

We want everyone who walks into the WAG (Winnipeg Art Gallery) to feel that it’s a safe and welcoming space, regardless of their background or whether they know anything about art,” WAG spokesperson Hanna Waswa says.

The gallery’s emphasis on creating a community space is the reason Waswa believes Winnipegers voted for the WAG as this year’s favourite local gallery.

Initially, the gallery was housed in a building called Cinema Centre that faced Colony Street. Construction of the current arrowhead-shaped WAG building was completed in 1971. Today, the art gallery houses more than 28,000 works of art from Canadian, Indigenous and international artists.

In the last few years, the art gallery has undergone important changes. Along with having a traditional board, an Indigenous advisory circle was created in 2017 to help guide the gallery’s decisions. For instance, the name Qaumajuq (it gives off light) was chosen by Indigenous language keepers for the WAG’s new museum housing the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art.

Qaumajuq’s collection was acquired from donations and collections over the years. The idea of adding a vast home for Inuit art, especially sculptures, was a decade in the making.

“One of the ideas of Qaumajuq was this concept of bridging the north to the south. We do have a fairly large Inuit community within Winnipeg. The combination of those two things is what led to the creation of Qaumajuq,” Waswa says.

Qaumajuq’s Visible Vault, where a vast number of sculptures are housed, is an impressive introduction to the Inuit gallery. One can explore the INUA (life force or spirit) exhibition in its entirety via an audio guide available online.

In the new year, the curators will replace INUA with the Inuit Sanaugangit (art by Inuit) exhibition. The collection spans three centuries of Inuit art from creators living around the globe.

“(It’s) an exploration of Inuit art across the centuries. That’s going to be a massive show, and it’ll be a wonderful way to explore the artistic tradition of Inuit,” Waswa says.

Published in Volume 77, Number 12 of The Uniter (December 1, 2022)

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