Built in 1971, the Winnipeg Art Galllery is a striking Canadian example of the late-modernist architecture period. So when the WAG’s Art for Lunch program was offering an architecture tour of their building last month, we decided to check it out.
Organized by the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation for the Winnipeg Design Festival, the tour educated us with a brief history lesson on the WAG, followed by a guided walk-through of each level. We were surprised to learn that the building’s design was actually chosen through a competition.
It’s unique shape was designed to fit the triangular site purchased for the WAG, while the tyndall limestone cladding on the building’s exterior and interior was an appropriate choice for the area, as this particular stone is quarried locally in Manitoba. The stone was left in its natural state, leaving the various fossils and imperfections visible.
The upper level’s pièce de résistance is the half-moon shaped skylight, which was designed with a dark framed grid. Mid-century modern designs furnish the boardroom, which sadly was occupied during our visit. We did, however, manage to see the theatre seating that was custom designed by Charles and Ray Eames (and manufactured by Herman Miller) for the WAG’s auditorium.
1. The Winnipeg Arg Gallery has an overview on the building’s history. Check out their Facts Page to learn more.
2. The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation outlines the results of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Architecture Competition here.