The WAG’s $65M Inuit Art Centre will bring new stories to the forefront, say artists, curators
Beneath the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Darlene Coward Wight unlocks and enters an underground vault full of treasures of the North that are destined to rise and take over the busy downtown street corner next year.
Above ground, bundled-up construction workers pour cement over lattices of rebar as two giant cranes extend into the sky, building the new Inuit Art Centre that will be home to some of the art currently hidden from public view in the vault.
Wight, the WAG’s long-time curator of Inuit art, spends a lot of her time in the windowless basement Inuit art vault tending to 7,500 stone, bone, antler and ivory carvings from across the Arctic that line tall shelves.
“The big thrill of being a curator is that I get to touch stuff all the time and thoroughly enjoy it,” she said after slipping on a pair of white handling gloves.
“Whalebone things, for example: you look at it, you think, ‘Wow, that must be heavy.’ And then you pick it up and it’s light as a feather, because it’s so porous and it’s been in the ground for 200 years.”