Message from the Executive Director
One year ago we launched the WAG’s centennial year with a birthday party and Nuit Blanche, an all-day, all-night affair that saw 7500 people come through the Gallery doors. Over the course of the centennial year another 125,000 visitors made the trip to the WAG, reinforcing our mission of outreach and engagement through art. Over 50,000 people alone enjoyed the blockbuster exhibition 100 Masters: Only in Canada.This was the year to be part of Canada’s oldest civic art gallery but it’s not over yet.
This fall we conclude the centennial year with a special exhibition, Storm and Spirit: The Eckhardt-Gramatté Collection of German Expressionist Art, a show which honours the remarkable gift of over 200 German Expressionist artworks donated to the WAG by the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation. Also presented this fall are several exciting exhibitions, including Christian Marclay’s The Clock in conjunction with the NGC@WAG partnership; In Memoriam: Inuit Artists Remembered; a retrospective exhibition of the work of renowned British photographer Don McCullin; and the ongoing presentation of the WAG’s permanent collection.
With their collective reach, these exhibitions offer our visitors a diverse swath of art-making, and ideas supported by programs and events that further inspire, challenge, and reward. We are truly successful as an arts organization when our reach connects fully with the community, and our invitation is welcoming and engaging.
Recently I received a letter from one of the thousands of visitors to the 100 Masters exhibition. We get many letters from our visitors about their experiences at the WAG, but this particular letter struck a chord touching on a critical part of our mission. The writer works with Inner City Youth Alive, an organization in Winnipeg with which the WAG partnered on the 100 Masters exhibition outreach. She had accompanied two young women to the WAG to see the show, and wrote: “I was pleasantly surprised to find how enthralled they were with the exhibition. As they stopped to listen to nearly every audio tour description and to take a closer look at the details and composition of pieces that caught their eye, I could tell that their minds were at work taking in this beautiful exhibition. By the end we had spent nearly two hours drinking in the work of the 100 Masters. Afterwards I asked them what they thought of their experience and they responded, almost in unison, ‘It was awesome.’ I’m not sure what I enjoyed more, seeing my first Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Picasso . . . or watching these two young woman taking in their first ever art gallery experience.”
One by one, new faces appeared at the WAG during our centennial year, and with each one we extended our embrace of the community that surrounds us – one that has come to understand even more about the power of art in our lives. As we approach the second century of our historic mandate, we look forward to serving the people of Winnipeg and Manitoba, and all those who walk through our doors, wanting to see and experience more through the gift of art.
To all of the visitors, supporters, and volunteers who made our Centennial year a huge success, thank you. And to the dedicated individuals who make up the staff at the WAG, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude. Together we continue to keep this place relevant and accessible—and a key part of the well-being of the community.
Stephen Borys, PhD, MBA