At the start of the month, the Winnipeg Art Gallery was the first major Winnipeg attraction to open its doors back up. From May 5 to May 6 the WAG hosted frontline workers and their families for a free experience courtesy of Canada Life with extended hours. Since then, the gallery has been welcoming the public back to witness one of Canada’s best galleries with plenty of social distance guidelines in place.
“The WAG is uniquely positioned to open to the community because we have the space to allow for physical distancing, offering individuals and families who have been living in isolation a safe space to visit outside of their homes,” said the WAG’s engagement supervisor, Amy Rebecca Harrison.
“Exploring the galleries and engaging with the art can provide a sense of normalcy and comfort in this time of crisis as the quiet, meditative nature of the Gallery can transport visitors from the anxieties of this pandemic,” Rebecca Harrison continues.
Within the galleries, you’ll now find hand-sanitization stations, social distancing signage, new occupancy measures and more government-mandated guidelines, but above all, you’ll find the collection itself, which beckons you from the get-go with Norval Morrisseau’s Androgyny.
New for the season is Into the Light, featuring more than 100 works from the modernist, Manitoban Group of Seven-member Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald (1890-1956). With our own elms and ashes budding, it’s a fitting time to take in L.L.’s landscapes, most of which are of the surrounding area. The exhibition also provides interesting histories of the city, as FitzGerald’s works were featured in the very first WAG exhibit (which was when it was the Winnipeg Museum of Fine Arts) in 1912.
The WAG’s collection also features other notable works from The Group of Seven - including incredible landscapes from Emily Carr and Tom Thompson - while its roster of internationally acclaimed local talent also includes Ivan Eyre, William Kurelek, and Wanda Koop.
The WAG’s permanent collection also features the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit Art and some really great works from the late Renaissance to the present.
In the spirit of being jaunty, the WAG currently is staging a merry assortment of these later works (namely best-loved paintings from the collection spanning the 16th to 19th centuries), on a few mammoth walls for Salon Style: Reimagining the Collection which is ending soon (so hurry!). Spending an hour standing in front of the Salon Style composition is the perfect post-isolation antidote; a true feast for your eyes.
Also on this summer is James Webb’s Prayer, which offers a mesmerizing acoustic experience for visitors. This project has been ongoing and updated since 2000, with this WAG installation being the latest Chicago version. In essence, Prayer is comprised of numerous speakers overlaid on a red carpet, with each speaker relaying individual prayers from faiths and cultures around the world in multiple languages all at one time. As the WAG states, “The spare though colourful installation has the austerity of a work of Minimal Art and the enveloping richness of a choral concert.”
When you visit this summer, you can also head to the top floor where the serene Rooftop Sculpture Garden beckons. This lovely setting provides great views of the city, while special rooftop events will be announced soon.
Inuit Art Centre
While you are at the WAG, you’ll also be able to see the progress of the Inuit Art Centre, the $65-million expansion the gallery, which will soon display the world’s largest public collection of Inuit art while innovating the meaning of the art museum.
This past winter we took a behind-the-scenes tour of the centre with its lead architect Michael Maltzan. Watch it above to hear Maltzan explain the ethos of the building, replete with renditions of what the Inuit Art Centre will look like upon completion.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is currently open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays until 9 p.m.
For more go to wag.ca