Inuit art gallery nears completion in Winnipeg

3 April 2020
  • Michael Maltzan

Michael Maltzan/Cibinel


Winnipeg, MB


Michael Maltzan inspired by Indigenous culture for museum addition

The largest gallery in Canada devoted to Indigenous art is set to open in Winnipeg, Manitoba, later this year. Designed by Los Angeles-based firm Michael Maltzan in collaboration with Cibinel, the 40,000 sq ft Inuit Art Centre will form a 40,000 sq ft addition to Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). The centre broke ground in 2018, and is expected to complete in time for a possible opening in late autumn 2020, with construction continuing in line with guidelines imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Manitoba has an outspoken Indigenous culture that represents over 12 percent of its population. Prior to designing the addition, Michael Maltzan joined WAG Director and CEO Dr. Stephen Borys on a trip to the north Canadian province of Nunavut to learn more about Inuit communities and the unique landscape that informs their culture. The resulting design features an all-glass ground level supporting the sculptural walls of the upper floors, which were created to subtly reflect the Nunavut landscape. Organically-shaped skylights will suffuse light throughout the gallery space.

The design centres on the Inuit Vault, a double-height storage area visible from the outside, which features a shelving system that parallels the curved shape of the building’s exterior. Connecting to the original museum building designed by Gustavo da Roza in 1971, the Inuit Arts Centre also includes a lecture theatre and research areas, together with facilities for a studio art and educational programme serving the local community. The light-filled gallery on the top floor will house over 13,000 Inuit carvings, textile prints, and other artworks provided by WAG and the Government of Nunavut. 

Michael Maltzan hoped that the design for the centre will reflect the artworks within, stating: “In designing the new centre we have drawn inspiration from the North’s landscape, light, people, and abstract beauty. The design for the centre includes a real diversity of art viewing and educational spaces that celebrate both the physical forms and the spirit of Inuit art and culture. The new building will be a true public face for Inuit art for Winnipeg, for Manitoba, and for the whole of Canada.”

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 01.08.2012 here

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