On December 16, the Winnipeg Museum of Fine Arts officially opens to the public at the Board of Trade Building, with Lieutenant-Governor Sir Douglas Cameron (1854–1921), Mayor Richard Deans Waugh (1868–1938), and Winnipeg Development and Industrial Bureau President William John Bulman (1870–1938) in attendance.
“The occasion is one of great interest to the members of the Bureau inasmuch as it opens up to the citizens a new line of development,” states Bulman in his opening address. “Art and manufacture are so closely allied that an institution such as this has become an absolute necessity if we are to become efficient as an industrial centre.” The Gallery’s first exhibition is composed of 270 artworks from the Royal Canadian Academy (RCA). The occasion is also marked by the attendance of three senior RCA members: Homer Watson (1855–1936), Maurice Cullen (1866–1934), and Frederick Challener (1869–1959). Artist Donald MacQuarrie (1872–after 1932) is the Gallery’s first Curator. Three Winnipeg businessmen play particularly instrumental roles in the creation of the Gallery: Bulman, the owner of Bulman Brothers lithography firm; James McDiarmid (1855–1934), contractor, architect, and amateur artist; and George Wilson (1863–1938), amateur artist and businessman. To hear more about Bulman from his grandson John, President of the Board (1971-1974), click the link below.
In his speech Mayor Waugh, unaware of the impact that future war and economic depression would have, paints an optimistic future for the Gallery: “I think there is little doubt that when the lease of the Bureau building expires…in five years, the city of Winnipeg will be only too glad to father a scheme for housing the pictures and curios which have been collected, in a permanent museum and gallery.”