Inspiration for Aanischaaukamikw’s bold design, with its massive laminated spruce beams, comes from the essential structure of the traditional Cree “sabtuan”.
The original design was developed by eminent native architect Douglas Cardinal through a series of visioning sessions and close collaboration with Elders. Cardinal and Rubin Rotman Architects of Montreal brought the project to completion. The finished building conforms to international museum standards making it compatible with other major institutions across the globe.
Aanischaaukamikw has 279 m² (3,003 square feet) of exhibition space, 1,385 m² (14,908 square feet) of storage, lab, administrative, and technical space.
The building’s main level is divided into four key areas:
- Chief Billy Diamond Hall: greeting of guests; performance space for music, film, and video;
- Exhibition Space: Permanent and temporary/traveling exhibits, visible storage and displays
- Library and Archives: Photographs, film, sound recordings, priceless printed historical records
- Demonstration spaces: Sites inside and outside the building for teaching of traditional pursuits
The Lower Level contains first class storage, research labs, administration, and conservation spaces, and office space for Cree entities concerned with language, traditional pursuits, arts and crafts, and tourism.