For millennia, Inuit artists have spoken through art. Today, the Winnipeg Art Gallery holds in trust close to 14,000 Inuit artworks – each one with stories to tell.

Sharing these stories with the world is at the core of Qaumajuq, a home for Inuit art in Winnipeg that bridges Canada’s North and South. Qaumajuq is a new building and a new way of presenting Inuit art, and has taken shape with the guidance of the WAG Indigenous Advisory Circle.

Qaumajuq is the first of its kind in the world – a unique sharing space where Inuit voices are front and centre in sharing their creativity. Artists, Inuit, various partners and community leaders have collaborated to envision and create a vibrant gathering place where all are welcome and where everyone’s stories are told and heard in a true spirit of reconciliation. This is an engaging, accessible space to experience art and artists in new ways, where art and technology offer direct connections to the land, people, and culture of the North.

We look forward to hearing your stories when Qaumajuq opens in February 2021. Learn about the building’s historic naming.

A Legacy for our Community

The architecture of Qaumajuq evokes beautiful Northern landscapes and will be a legacy to inspire and engage generations to come.

A World-Class Design

40,000-square feet on four levels with bridges connecting to the WAG on each level

This world-class cultural landmark is designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, one of North America’s leading firms. Selected through an international architectural competition, Maltzan’s design is shaped by his experiences meeting people in the North. His design is inspired by the landscapes, light, and peoples of the North, and reflects the forms and spirits of Inuit art.

Maltzan is working with associate architect, Manitoba’s Cibinel Architecture Ltd.

Re-live the building journey

 

 

You are invited to join the visionary group of supporters whose commitment to the power of art and culture to connect people is building Qaumajuq.

Contribute by purchasing a shelf in the Visible Vault! Purchase for $2,020, only 492 spots available, be recognized on signage as an individual, group, or organization.

Donate

Inuit have guided the creation of Qaumajuq and lead the development of exhibitions and programming that will connect you with others.

The WAG partners with Inuit birthright organizations, governments, associations, arts organizations and individuals across Inuit Nunangat and in urban and Southern communities to ensure Qaumajuq is a place where all Inuit feel welcome, engaged and inspired to share their culture with the world. Together, we are shaping a meaningful celebration of Inuit voices, art and stories.

Creating spaces for Inuit elders to share their stories with the broader community is critical to building bridges of understanding – between cultures, between North and South, and between generations. Inuit partners are developing programs that engage elders in ways that enrich the Qaumajuq experience for everyone.

In the lead-up to the opening of this new cultural landmark, it is essential to the WAG that we acknowledge the colonial history of our permanent collection.

We recognize that art galleries have historically been part of the colonial structure of perpetuating racism and oppression, and we are committed to dismantling these systems.

See the FAQs here to learn how.

 

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has long been present in Winnipeg and was instrumental to the early development of the global Inuit art market. In the 1950s, carvings were purchased at fur trading posts in Inukjuak, Puvirnituq, Kinngait, and several other Inuit communities. Since the 1950s, Inuit have owned and operated artist co-operatives. Carving stone was locally quarried and distinctive to each community. The carvings came South by boat in the late summer or fall and were sold at the Handicrafts Guilds in Montreal (est. 1949) and Winnipeg (est. 1952), and in HBC stores across the country. Large private collections were formed in Winnipeg because of access to the bulk of the carvings that came to the HBC headquarters in the city. For more information on HBC’s history of collecting Inuit art, click here.

These private collections were formed, most notably, by Jerry Twomey, George Swinton, Bessie Bulman (head of the Guild), her sister Eileen Abbott, and HBC employees. Today, the WAG collection of Inuit art includes donations from these private collections. Our curators also maintain strong relationships with artists by visiting their homes, workspaces, and communities, and spending time with them on the land. We purchase works directly from the artists in their communities, from their cooperatives, or through the global art market. In addition, we collaborate with other museums, galleries, and arctic co-ops to exhibit artworks on loan.

Today, more than 2,000 Inuit artists from many of the communities of Inuit Nunangat are represented in our permanent collection, totalling close to 12,000 pieces. While several thousand of the artworks are sculptural, we recognize and celebrate the fact that Inuit art extends to an evolving array of media including prints, textiles, clothing, and digital media, all present in our collection. Inuit art encompasses any work created by an Inuk. While it is often studied and regarded in an ethnically-oriented context, Inuit art is very much part of the cannon of art history and the future of contemporary art.

The WAG recognizes that the history of our Inuit art collection is tied to the ongoing history of colonialism in North America. Fur trading posts disrupted the traditional and sustainable nomadic lifestyle of Inuit communities, contributing to the permanent settlement of many Inuit. We hope to shed light on this history, and bring Inuit voices to the forefront through more storytelling.

As a non-profit art museum, we are taking part in national conversations around reconciliation, and have developed an artwork provenance policy to further collaborate with Indigenous artists and their families. If an artwork is found to be acquired in an unethical manner by the WAG or by the individual or institution who collected the work prior to it entering the Gallery’s collection, we would move forward with the necessary steps towards repatriation. Public access to provenance information on all artworks in our collection is available. More information can be found here.

We care for the artworks so that their stories and the stories of the artists can continue to be shared for generations to come. We recognize that each artwork has a Spirit. An Indigenous Elder has been asked to care for the artwork the WAG holds. Since Treaty 1 territory is not the original homeland of Inuit art, it is important that the Spirit of the art is honoured and cared for. Ceremony and prayer take place regularly in all of our vaults for all of the art.

Our Guide to the Collections provides an overview of the WAG’s defining collection areas through 400 artwork highlights. Copies are available at ShopWAG.

Qaumajuq builds on the WAG’s long history of collecting and exhibiting Inuit art and working with the leadership of Inuit partners and stakeholders. By amplifying the voices of the artists and promoting cultural understanding, we aim to support reconciliation, bringing us all closer together. Qaumajuq will be a cornerstone for building capacity among emerging Inuit arts and heritage professionals, a place for mentorship, learning, and intercultural dialogue.

Qaumajuq is not only a building, it is a cultural venue for Inuit in Canada, and a beacon of Inuit agency. Inuit partners have been integral to Qaumajuq’s conception, and are leading the development of design, exhibitions, and educational programming. We strive to provide a platform for Inuit voices and ensure all Inuit are welcomed.

Qaumajuq will bring the North to the South to deepen the world’s understanding of Canada. The North covers over one third of Canada’s landmass, yet fewer than two per cent of Canadians will ever set foot in the North. Qaumajuq will be a place to build and understand our relationships.

Inuit stakeholders look forward to having a ‘capital’ in Canada in which their art, histories, and stories can be shared with each other and with the world. We are working closely with Northern partners, and our relationship with the Government of Nunavut is fundamental.

Due to space and resources, in 2015 the Government of Nunavut (GN) entrusted the WAG with its Fine Arts Collection, which includes over 7,385 objects. This long-term loan involves care, storage, exhibition, mentorship, and development of public educational programming. Qaumajuq will provide a temporary new home for the GN collection.

Over the past five years, we have collaborated with the GN to host artist and Elder residencies and mentorship training, tour exhibitions in northern communities, digitize the collection, and open WAG@The Forks, a shop providing increased market access to Inuit artists.

We are honoured to continue to support the GN’s efforts in creating increased awareness and exposure to the rich collection until its return to Nunavut. We are dedicated to caring for the Spirit of the art with Ceremony, while Treaty 1 is its home. We are committed to supporting the development of a cultural heritage centre in Inuit Nunangat by offering resources and expertise, and creating space for a sister relationship between these institutions and Qaumajuq.

Opening in the coming months, Qaumajuq will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making with Inuit voices at the forefront. We will continue to honour the legacies of Inuit artists through exhibitions curated by Inuit, programs, and events at the WAG via Qaumajuq.

The WAG’s Indigenous Advisory Circle is at the heart of all of our decolonization and Indigenization work. The Circle provides leadership and counsel in the development and planning of related WAG exhibitions, education, community outreach, partnerships, and programming

The Circle is made up of representatives from the four regions of Inuit Nunangat: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut. Urban Inuit and circumpolar Inuit communities such as Alaska and Greenland are also represented, along with First Nations and Metis members from Manitoba and across the country.

Local community consultations have been essential in developing our mandate and purpose for Qaumajuq. Indigenous leaders in Winnipeg have been very generous with their time and sharing their knowledge. Leadership and Elders from all of the communities located on Treaty 1 have been engaged with our Indigenization journey. The Dakota Nation, who’s unceded land the Gallery sits on, has also been involved in conversations. The Metis Nation and the local Inuit community have been essential to Qaumajuq planning, from the project’s inception to the upcoming opening celebrations.

We acknowledge that without the input from the Anishinaabe, Ininawak, Dakota, Metis Nations, and the Manitoba Inuit community, the dream of Qaumajuq would not be a reality.

Capital Campaign Executive
Arthur Mauro, Honorary Chair • Barry Rempel, Chair • Doneta A. Brotchie • Dr. Ernest Cholakis, Chair, WAG Board of Directors • Emeric J. Duha • Lila Goodspeed Everett • Nick Logan • John C. MacAulay • Lewis Rosenberg • Kim Ulmer • Richard L. Yaffe, Q.C.

Stories

Help build Qaumajuq
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is located on Treaty No. 1 the original lands and waters of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininiwak, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
WAG - Winnipeg Art Gallery Outline
300 Memorial Blvd
Winnipeg, MB
204.786.6641
Email Us
Tue-Thu // 11am–5pm
Fri // 11am–9pm
Sat-Sun // 11am–5pm
Closed Mondays