Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre gets a new Inuktut name

Qaumajuq is expected to open in Feburary 2021

The new 40,000-square-foot building designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Cibinel Architecture is expected to open to the public in February 2021. (Image courtesy of the WAG)

By Sarah Rogers

The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new Inuit Art Centre is going to be lit.

The gallery announced a new Inuktut name for the centre on Wednesday, Oct. 28: Qaumajuq, which translates as “it is bright” or “it is lit,” a nod to the light that flows into the new building.

The name Qaujamuq was suggested and selected by the WAG’s Indigenous Advisory Circle and its Indigenous language advisory committee, which included Inuktut speakers Taqralik Partridge, Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Johnny Kasudluak and Theresie Tungilik.

To note the traditional territory the buildings sits on, the advisory circle also opted to give the building an Anishinaabemowin name: Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah, meaning “Come on in, the dawn of light is here” or “the dawn of light is coming.”

The WAG says this is first time an Indigenous naming of this kind has occurred at a major art institution in Canada.

“We are excited about the transformation and naming of the WAG and the Inuit art centre, to continue the process of decolonization,” said Heather Igloliorte, an Inuk curator and art historian, who serves as co-chair of the advisory circle.

“We are thrilled to share the names of the spaces in the seven Indigenous languages of Manitoba and Inuit Nunangat. We are so honoured to gift the institution with these new names that point to a new path forward for galleries and museums in this country.”

Qaumajuq is expected to open in February 2021, and will offer free admission to Indigenous peoples.

The new 40,000-square-foot building, designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Cibinel Architecture, will connect to the existing gallery on all four levels, providing exhibition, learning and event spaces, a revamped shop, plus a new café on the main level.

The WAG is already home to a substantial amount of the Government of Nunavut’s Fine Art Collection, which is held on long-term loan at the gallery.

The gallery just launched a new exhibit called Inuk Style, featuring Inuit clothing from that collection, spanning different regions and styles over the last century.

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