"the best thing in the way of art to be seen in Western Canada."
From its establishment in 1912 as the first civic art gallery in Canada to its role a century later as one of the leading visual arts institutions in the country, the history of the Winnipeg Art Gallery is inextricably linked to the principle that the cause of art is the cause of the people. In a way, the WAG is a product of the people and art that fill its spaces and make possible its reach into the community. Among the Gallery’s founders was businessman James McDiarmid, who said the “ideal Winnipeg” included an art gallery – “the best thing in the way of art to be seen in Western Canada.”
This legacy of artistic exploration and public engagement remains the foundation of the Gallery’s mission a century later. The year 2012 marked our centennial, and with it the charge to organize an exhibition that celebrates not just the WAG’s rich art holdings, but those from across the nation. The result is 100 Masters: Only in Canada, a very special gathering of one hundred works of art from twenty-eight museums in Canada and two in the United States. This exhibition pays tribute to our founders and the myriad supporters who have followed, bringing us to this critical place in our history where we embrace a new generation of cultural advocates to help lead us forward. This is a show is for everyone, and I really can’t think of anyone who won’t be able to find something to connect with in this exhibition.