Since its establishment as one of Canada’s earliest civic art museums in 1912, the WAG has grown to house nearly 30,000 works of art.

Today, the Gallery holds in trust the world’s largest public collection of modern and contemporary Inuit art. Other areas of note include historical and contemporary Canadian art, historical British and European art, decorative art, and photography. Explore the constantly evolving collection, reflecting the combined efforts of generations of curators, researchers, collectors, donors, and artists.

Our exclusive Guide to the Collections provides an overview of the WAG’s defining collection areas through 400 artwork highlights.

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The WAG is committed to extending engagement with the collection and supporting learning initiatives that advance our mission. We welcome proposals for loan requests for consideration by our team.

Please note that due to construction of the WAG Inuit Art Centre, we have instituted a loan moratorium.

Due to construction of the Inuit Art Centre, the WAG has instituted an acquisitions slowdown, both for artwork donations and purchases. This slowdown is likely to carry through 2020. However, we would still love to hear from you. If you are interested in donating or selling an artwork to the WAG, please contact the Exhibitions & Museum Services Assistant at collections-exhibitions-assistant@wag.ca.

Please note the Gallery does not provide appraisals for works of art. If you are interested in the value of your artwork, please contact the Art Dealers Association of Canada, who will put you in touch with a qualified appraiser.

Many artworks in the WAG collection are available to license for scholarly, personal, and commercial use. Requests can be made via our Right and Reproductions Request Form or by contacting Collections Management at collections@wag.ca.

Provenance refers to the ownership history of an artwork from the time it was created to the present day. It is an important way to understand the cultural, social, and economic contexts of an artwork. The provenance of some artworks may have legal and ethical implications such as requiring the return, or repatriation, of looted or illegally exported works to their rightful owners.

If an artwork is found to be acquired in an unethical manner by the WAG or by the individual or institution who collected the works prior to it entering the Gallery’s collection, the WAG would move forward with the necessary steps towards repatriation. Public access to provenance information on all artworks in the WAG collection is available upon request. Research on the provenance of artwork in the WAG collection is an ongoing exercise that is part of the WAG mission and operations. For instance, in 2014, the WAG was one of six galleries who participated in a pilot research project coordinated by the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO) to research the provenance of Holocaust-era artworks.

The WAG’s permanent collection, like most museum collections, contains artworks that have incomplete provenances. For art objects that are several centuries old, it is quite common for their provenance history to be incomplete.  This is especially true of works whose histories intersect with periods of political and social upheaval, or in situations of cultural inequity, when all forms of moveable assets tend to change hands frequently – legally or otherwise. Since records of ownership are often lost or don’t exist in writing, it is often difficult to fully document the provenance. While researching and securing the provenance for these objects is complex, it is a scholarly activity that the WAG is always doing as part of its broader mission.

Provenance research is undertaken in a variety of ways, starting with clues that may still exist on the artworks themselves such as on the backs of paintings, on their frames, or on labels or inscriptions that point to earlier owners or transactions, or at least to their locations. It is a form of forensic investigation, requiring specialized expertise. A wide variety of relevant documentation must be identified, located and consulted such as old auction sale catalogues, dealer records, exhibition records, archival photographs, personal papers, family histories and stories, and other forms of published sources. Each artwork presents its own particular case and challenges. Whereas intensive provenance research on a particular artwork may result in the complete reconstruction of its provenance, there are no guarantees of success.

The WAG is committed to investigating the provenance of works in its permanent collection and is open to reviewing new evidence as emerges through the varied channels of research and reconciliation.

Contact

For inquiries

Nicole Fletcher
Collections Coordinator

For loans

Mandy Hyatt
Exhibitions & Loans Administrator
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The Winnipeg Art Gallery is located on Treaty No. 1 the original lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininiwak, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
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