Collection MSS 291 - The Winnipeg School of Art fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

The Winnipeg School of Art fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

Parallel title

School of Art

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: The original name of the school was the Winnipeg School of Art. The name was changed to the School of Art in 1950 when the school became affiliated with the University of Manitoba.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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Physical description area

Physical description

0.5 m textual records
78 photographs
9 negatives
43 slides

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

The Winnipeg School of Art, now simply the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, was established in 1913 through the efforts of the Winnipeg Industrial Bureau. The businessmen behind the Bureau established the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1912 based on the belief that such a gallery would be a symbol of progress and cultural development. A similar mindset sustained the Bureau’s decision to support a School of Art the following year. The school is Western Canada’s oldest art institute and it was hoped that the school would play a role in shaping the civilization of Western Canada. The school played a major role in training Western Canadian artists throughout the twentieth century.

The early years of the school included courses on landscape sketching, life sketching, composition, artistic anatomy, animal drawing, painting, sculpture, modeling, and design. By 1915 classes for children were incorporated into the school’s curriculum. Evening and Saturday courses were offered for working commercial artists in the community. Saturday classes were also offered for free to public school teachers. Early publicity for the school marketed the applied benefits of art instruction; art was viewed as a technical skill. The curriculum expanded in the aftermath of the First World War as the number of students increased.

The School of Art faced a number of financial difficulties during the mid-1920s and early 1930s. The school remained open despite such challenges, primarily through pay cuts taken by the faculty and administration. After the Second World War, interest in art education in the province increased making incorporation with the University of Manitoba possible. The School of Art was incorporated into the University of Manitoba in 1950.

Today the curriculum at the School of Art includes both a traditional focus on developing fine art techniques, and knowledge of art history. Undergraduate degrees are offered in Fine Arts, and students have the option of specializing in the study of Art History. Since 2010 the school has also offered a graduate program.

Custodial history

This collection was donated to the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by the School of Art in 2009.

Scope and content

The collection consists of School of Art Prospectuses, administration files, exhibition records, research materials, and photographs.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Finding aids

A finding aid in pdf format can be downloaded from the collection-level description.

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Description record identifier

Institution identifier

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

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Rules for Archival Description



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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Andrea Martin on January 24, 2012

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


The major sources used for this description were: Baker, Marilyn. The Winnipeg School of Art: the early years." Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1984.; and the School of Art website (accessed January 2012).

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