Through an innovative partnership, the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library (MCML) and Manitoba Craft Council (MCC) are joining forces to develop a new hub for craft. Located in an historic building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, the 3,025 sq ft facility will include an exhibition gallery, shop, library, heritage display, hands-on area and programme space featuring the best of contemporary and historical craft this province has to offer.
Many people will remember the MCC’s Craftspace Gallery and Shop on McDermot Ave in the Exchange. Its closure in 2006 left a hole in Manitoba’s arts and culture scene, for makers and supporters alike. “Ten years later, people are still calling or dropping by our office hoping to find the shop,” says MCC Director, Tammy Sutherland. She’s pleased to report that the MCC is still going strong, producing a full schedule of contemporary craft exhibitions, workshops, artist talks and other events in collaboration with venues across the province.
“Not having a public venue of our own for the past ten years has been both a gift and a challenge,” says Sutherland. “On the positive side, we’ve reached beyond our usual audience by partnering with many other groups to produce great craft programming all over the province.” The downside? “The lack of public visibility and presence. Tourists and locals alike have trouble finding high quality, locally made craft. And makers have few options for showing and selling their work.”
Meanwhile, on the heritage side of craft, the MCML is one of the city’s real gems, hidden in plain view just two blocks from the Bay downtown. Their collection, started in the early 1930s, features over 10,000 artifacts and 3,500 books, squeezed into just 1,500 sq feet. “We’ve really outgrown our current space,” says curator Andrea Reichert. Hoping to increase their community programming and better showcase works from their collection, the MCML started hunting for a new home in 2013. By early 2015, the MCML and MCC started talking seriously about working together.
“It was the perfect time for us to chart a common course,” says Reichert. “By collaborating, we’re able to create a beautiful and permanent place from which to invite Manitobans and visitors alike to experience contemporary and historical craft. It’s a win for everyone.”
In November 2015, the MCML and MCC co-signed a lease on a space at 329 Cumberland Ave. Floor plans for the new facility have been drawn up, partial funding is in place, and renovations began in March.
Report courtesy of MCML and MCC..